A sheepherder from Tses was yesterday sentenced to 36 years imprisonment for murdering and dragging his friend’s body with a car nearly three years ago.
High Court Judge Naomi Shivute sentenced Thomas Klein Pieterson to serve 30 years for the count of murder with direct intent, nine years for theft – of which four years would run concurrently with the sentence imposed on murder and one year for obstructing the course of justice.
The court indicated that it took into consideration the three years that Pieterson spent in custody before his case was finalised and him being a first-time offender. However, such circumstances were outweighed by the facts of the case, according to the court.
“The deceased was vulnerable as he was living with disability and he was killed by the accused in cold blood,” noted Shivute.
Last month, Shivute convicted Pieterson on charges of murder with direct intent, theft and obstructing the course of justice for the death of Josef Olifand (44) between 4 and 12 November 2017.
According to undisputed evidence presented in court, Pieterson murdered Olifand while he was visiting him at a farmhouse where he was living in the Tses area.
The convict killed Olifand by hitting him with an axe or hammer. After murdering him, he tied a wire around his neck and further tied it to Olifand’s car. He then used the car to drag the body away from the farmhouse to dispose it of in a ditch.
He drove off with Olifand’s car, which he later used to transport passengers for money. He eventually abandoned the car along the B1 road near Tses after the vehicle had broken down.
Olifand’s body was later discovered by passers-by but Pieterson allegedly returned to the place where he had dumped it and dragged the corpse to a ditch, where he allegedly tried to hide it again by burying it under rocks.
During the trial, Pieterson denied guilt on all charges. In his defence, he said he was acting in self-defence on the date in question.
Although he opted not to testify in his defence, his reply to the state’s allegations contained in the pre-trial memorandum was used as evidence against him in which he confessed to the crimes.
However, during mitigation, Pieterson said he regrets killing Olifand and if he had the opportunity, he would apologise to his family.
Titus Mbaeva represented Pieterson whilst Tangeni Iitula represented the state on the matter.