The four murderers of the Mooinooi couple, Anisha and Joey van Niekerk in 2017, were told that they were “a gang of evil-minded criminals” by Judge Bert Bam in the Gauteng High Court before he sentenced each to life imprisonment on Thursday, 15 October.

Bam described the case as one of the cruellest he has heard in recent years. He said the state has proved beyond doubt that Koos Strydom and his gang, consisting of his wife Mercia (23), Aaron Sithole (27), Jack Sithole (20) and Alex Moday (36) planned to kidnap and murder the Van Niekerk couple. Koos Strydom died in prison last year after he allegedly committed suicide.

Mercia Strydon and Alex Modau received two life sentences, while the two brothers, Aaron and Jack Sithole each received four life sentences. Koos Strydom’ son, Vincent and his girlfriend, Maruschka Opperman, as well as another accused, Moses Rakhubu, were initially also arrested with the four accused, but the three later turned state witnesses.

Joey and Anisha went missing on 10 December 2017 while on their way to Pretoria to organise Joey’s father’s funeral. Their burnt vehicle was found near Magaliesburg a week later. After being killed, the women’s bodies were burnt and the remains thrown away. Burnt human bones that were found at a stream on Strydom’s farm were established to be those of Anisha van Niekerk.

ALSO SEE: Four Mooinooi murder accused found guilty

Bam said the reason for the murders was greed, and that the accused played a role in the murders planned by Koos and Mercia. He described the murders as cruel, evil and despicable. He said the two women were abducted, assaulted, raped in front of each other and then hanged from meat hook hooks in a container to suffocate slowly. Koos wanted the women’s property, and before they were killed, the women were forced to sign a purchase contract.

Joey (32) and Anisha (30) van Niekerk

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