Sentence will be handed down on Wednesday for the three Zimbabweans who were found guilty of killing former world heavyweight boxing champion Corrie Sanders during an armed robbery.
Pretoria high court Judge Ferdi Preller on Tuesday convicted Paida Fish (21), Chris Moyo (28), and Samuel Mabena (29), of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and illegal firearm and ammunition possession.
Sanders (46) was shot during an armed robbery at the Thatch Haven Country Lodge outside Brits while attending his nephew’s 21st birthday party on September 22 2012. He died the next day in the Kalafong hospital.
Sanders was talking to his daughter Marinique and a cousin near the entrance to the boma when three armed men stormed in and started shooting.
He was shot when he moved in front of his daughter to protect her. He was already bleeding from wounds to his arm and stomach when he pulled her to the ground and told her to pretend that she was dead.
The robbers ordered guests to lie down and demanded their handbags, cellphones, and cash.
Two of the guests identified Fish and Moyo at a police identity parade.
The three were arrested a few days later in the Oukasie informal settlement, near Brits, after a tip-off.
According to police evidence, Fish had a handbag and the keys to the Range Rover of one of the guests in his possession. Moyo was arrested with the handbags of two of the guests.
His girlfriend handed a stolen cellphone, which she found in their child’s diaper bag, to police.
Mabena was found with a brown purse and R500 from one of the guests in his pocket. He was wearing the engraved watch of one of the guests, fastened to his arm with elastic bands.
Accused brought ‘pain and suffering’
A police cellphone expert testified that the sim card of “an ugly little Nokia phone” found in Fish’s possession had been used in a cellphone belonging to Sanders’ mother, Alida, 24 hours after the robbery.
The same sim card was used in another guest’s cellphone within 45 minutes of the robbery.
The accused all claimed they were innocent and relied on alibis, which were not corroborated by any credible evidence.
Preller said none of them could give a reasonable explanation for the items found in their possession and their versions could simply not be true.
After his conviction Fish testified in mitigation that he was not a murderer.
The prosecutor put it to him that his conduct had the potential to create conflict between South Africans and foreigners. “All you brought here was pain and suffering to South African families,” he was told.
Sanders’s mother cried after the verdict was handed down, and hugged the prosecutors and police investigators who helped to bring the killers to book.
His brother, Michael, said the family was still very emotional, especially his brother’s two young children and their mother. He said it would take a long time before they would be able to forgive the three killers.
Sanders fought 46 times in his professional career, losing only four times and winning 31 bouts by knockout.
He won the WBO heavyweight title in March 2003, after knocking out Ukrainian heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitsckho in the second round in Hannover, Germany. – Sapa