The wife of a murdered Brits farmer on Wednesday asked the Brits Regional Court if the murderer of her husband could remove his mask so she could look him in the eye.
“I wanted to look my husband’s murderer in the eyes so he can see me. He looked at me but there was no emotion in his eyes… there was just nothing,” Drieka Botha (57) told Kormorant after the murderer was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.
Her husband, the well-known Brits farmer, Dries “Bloubul” Botha (57), was shot and killed during a farm attack on 4 July 2017. His murderer, Caiphus Shilenge (29) was sentenced on Wednesday.
Shilenge shot Botha six times when he was at a storeroom on the farm the night of the attack. Shilenge and six accomplices were hiding nearby and fled after the shooting. Botha was airlifted in a serious condition to the Milpark Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries five days later.
While testifying about the impact the murder had on her life, Drieka asked the court if Shilenge could take off his mask so that she could see him. Shilenge complied. “I wanted to see the man who killed my husband and I wanted him to see me. I feel a sense of relief knowing who the shooter is and I am glad he admitted guilt,” she said.
The sentencing on Wednesday came after a dragged out court case over more than four years during which Shilenge and a co-accused managed to escape from the Hartbeespoort police station in 2018. He was rearrested on a farm near Brits in 2019.
Shilenge and four other accused were initially caught by the police in the Schaumburg informal settlement in Hartbeespoort a few months after the murder. They were found in possession of the unlicensed firearm that was used to shoot Botha.
The case has been in court over 50 times over the last four years. Shilenge eventually pleaded guilty. The other accused are still in custody facing murder charges.
Since her husband’s murder, Drieka has been supported by the Afriforum trauma unit. “I would not have been able to go through this thing alone. Johan Kloppers of the trauma unit has stood by me since Dries’ murder. He played a big role in the whole case. The work they do cannot be bought with money,” she said.