The death of a farmer affects the whole nation, farmers provide food to the nation.
This is what Adv. Zukile Mdolomba, senior public prosecutor in the East London High Court, said where the killer of a local farmer was sentenced to life in prison.
Odwa Jim Ntlangani, 36, was convicted of the murder of Jason Winrow, 47, in the same court earlier this week.
Winrow was killed on 28 July 2017 at around 7.30pm on his farm in Bluewater.
He was overpowered while trying to open the farm gate. Police at the time said he was shot and stabbed. His attacker looted his cellphone, wallet and Toyota pickup truck.
Winrow’s foreman found his body at the farm gate the next morning.
Testimony in court indicated that Ntlangani stole cattle on his farm a year before Winrow’s murder.
In June 2016, Ntlangani and a group of men gained access to Winrow’s farm and stole 16 cattle.
According to a statement from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), evidence presented in court indicated that Ntlangani took the stolen cattle to a nearby farm and sold ten cattle to a farmer in the area.
Police later seized the rest of the cattle and arrested Ntlangani on a charge of stock theft.
With handcuffs around his hands, Ntlangani escaped and fled to Cape Town. He returned in July 2017 and attacked Winrow.
Mdolomba argued the evidence indicates the attack on Winrow was an attempt to stop the stock theft case, in which Winrow was a key witness.
Judge Thembekile Malusi found Ntlangani guilty on charges of murder, aggravated robbery, stock theft and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Malusi said in the sentencing that Winrow’s employees on the farm lost their jobs as the farm was sold after his murder.
With this, Malusi sentenced Ntlangani to life on the charge of murder, as well as a further 25 years imprisonment on the rest of the charges.
Lt.Gen. Liziwe Ntshinga, police commissioner in the Eastern Cape, welcomed the sentence on Friday and emphasized the successful prosecution in the stock theft charge.
“We welcome every sentence of a stock theft suspect. With every suspect, we win the battle against stock theft, ”she added.
The Eastern Cape was recently described as the “capital of stock theft”, after the province reported most of South Africa’s most stock theft cases over a financial year for the third consecutive year.
According to the previous financial year’s crime statistics, the Eastern Cape has eight out of the top ten police stations where most stock theft cases were reported nationwide.