20 June 2018

South Africa: 'Where Do You Go From Here?' - Slain Train Driver's Wife After Killers Get 25 Years

The wife of murdered train driver Piet Botha has thanked the police, the courts and the prosecutor for the successful conviction of her husband's killers, as her family tries to rebuild their lives.

Jatheme Hamid and Dorian Diedericks received the maximum possible sentences for crimes committed by minors in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

The pair had shot and killed Malmesbury-native Botha on the platform of Netreg station in broad daylight in July 2016, before robbing him of his cellphone and bag.

The two, now 18 and 19 respectively, each received an effective 25-year prison sentence after being found guilty of murder, robbery, the possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition, and gang-related charges.

An emotionally-drained Tania told journalists outside court that she was relieved after a long and difficult two years.

"I feel relieved, at least one part is over now," she said. "We've got to start building now on something and we don't know what.

"Life goes on, but you're still grieving and you've got to carry on with life, without your life partner of 20-odd years.

"Where do you start? Where do you go from here?

"You've got responsibilities you haven't had before, and still trying to get used to it. It all takes time."

'Would have wanted life terms'

Botha expressed her gratitude to the police for the way they investigated her husband's murder.

"They did an excellent job. The conditions they have to work in are extremely difficult and dangerous. In this case, they really did their part to get justice. I'm very happy with their job."

She also thanked Judge Mark Sher, saying she admired him greatly.

As for Sher's sentence of 25 years in prison, Botha said she could accept it.

"I'm happy with that. It's the maximum that can be imposed for children," she said.

"Obviously, one would have wanted life imprisonment for them, because I and my kids have to live for the rest of our lives without our father and husband, but yes, they got what they should have got [by law]."

'She battled four defence lawyers'

Tania reserved special praise for the prosecutor, who preferred not to be named.

She told News24 afterwards that the prosecutor not only managed to secure convictions, but also had to battle four different defence lawyers for months on her own.

She also thanked News24 for assisting her in getting her occupational claim processed through the Department of Labour's Compensation Fund, following Piet's murder, having struggled with no finances for 12 months.

Piet's brother Leon was also in attendance.

He said he could only express his gratitude for all the roleplayers involved in the justice system for getting the family a small sense of closure.

'Court has a duty to send strong message'

Earlier on Wednesday, Sher said the court had to send a strong message to both the public, who demanded justice, and other "like-minded individuals", considering similar, gang-related crimes.

"The court has a duty to send a strong message to gangsters who are terrorising communities and endangering passengers and Prasa (Passenger Rail Agency of SA) personnel - that acts of violence are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.

"Offenders must think twice before engaging in such criminal acts."

A third man, 39-year-old Cedric Andrews, was found guilty of the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition and was sentenced to an effective eight years in prison.

The court was particularly concerned that the accused never took the court into their confidence regarding the gang-related nature of the crime, and whether a leader had actually directed the pair to commit the crime, Sher said.

He concluded by sending his condolences to the Botha family and praised the work of the police, prosecution and defence for the duration of the trial.

Source: News24

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