Couple lured to farm before being raped, killed and burned ‘beyond recognition’
Four people have been sentenced to life in prison for the kidnap, rape and murder of a same-sex couple.
Aaron James Sithole, 37, Jack Chikinya Sithole, 21, Alex Modau, 39, and Mercia Strydom, 24, were found guilty on multiple charges including the murder and rape of Anisha and Joey van Niekerk, robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping and theft.
They have been handed a total of 12 life sentences and a combined 187 years behind bars after the vile crimes in South Africa.
The court heard that on December 10, 2017, Jacobus Petrus Strydom, 54, and his wife Mercia lured the couple to their farm in Mooinooi, near the town of Brits.
The van Niekerks were told their killers wanted to buy a plot of land they were leasing from them at the time, South African website News24 reports.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Lumka Mahanjana said: "Upon their arrival, the van Niekerks were coerced into signing the contract, assaulted, raped, and killed with the assistance of the Sitholes and Modau.
"Their bodies were taken to a nearby river and burnt beyond recognition."
Prosecutors also argued that the Strydoms' greed motivated them to commit the horrific crimes.
Before the couple were killed the gang stole their vehicle, which was also later burnt.
They were also forced to disclose the PIN numbers of their bank cards and large sums of money were taken out of both the victims' accounts.
Jacobus Petrus Strydom, also known as Koos, is thought to have been the mastermind behind the enterprise but killed himself in prison while awaiting trial.
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