Trio get life for Richmond farm murders

Pietermaritzburg - Two men and a teenager were handed life sentences by the KwaZulu-Natal High Court on Wednesday for killing a Richmond farming couple and their adult son.

Zamokuhle Maduna, 19, Siphesihle Ngubane, 20, and a 17-year-old pleaded guilty to the murders on the farm. The three got an additional 15 years each for aggravated robbery.

They killed and set alight Ekard Schutte, 76, on 1 March, and later killed his wife Elizabeth, 66, and son Lutz, 33.

Lutz had come from Germany to celebrate his father's birthday.

The defence counsel used the guilty plea as a reason to escape the life sentence.

However, Acting Judge Louis Barnard overruled this on the grounds that the murders and robbery were planned.

Defence counsel Zina Anastasiou said the guilty plea showed their remorse. Barnard disagreed, saying it probably arose only after their arrest.

Petrol poured over body, burnt

In a statement, Maduna said: "We agreed that we would kill Ekard Schutte. Ngubane and [the youth] would approach him from the back while I spoke to him and the three of us killed him."

They poured petrol over his body and burnt him.

While Ekard was being killed, Elizabeth was out fetching Lutz. The men waited for them in the Schutte's home.

When Elizabeth and Lutz arrived they were attacked. Lutz was killed in front of his mother.

She was stabbed to death after being tied up and gagged. She had given them a key to a safe, which they took money from.

Barnard said the heinous crimes against the family even had an impact on the grandchildren.

The couple's other son, Stefan Schutte, told the court on Tuesday that he was so badly affected by seeing the bodies of his parents and brother that he spent a week in a psychiatric hospital and was still on medication.

His wife and children also received psychological counselling.