Suretha Brits, who was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment for the murder of her husband and owner of the Pofadder Hotel, Leon Brits, told the court that she was driven to orchestrate his death as she felt trapped in an abusive and loveless marriage.
SURETHA Brits, 31 who was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment for the murder of her husband and owner of the Pofadder Hotel, Leon Brits, 41, told the court that she was driven to orchestrate his death as she felt trapped in an abusive and loveless marriage.
She entered into a plea and sentence agreement in the Upington High Court on Monday.
Suretha claimed that the deceased coerced her into having sexual relations with him from a young age and also forced her to have an abortion after she fell pregnant when she was 15 years old.
She also related that her husband had threatened to take everything from her, including her children, and had threatened to kill her and himself, should she ever attempt to divorce him.
The body of Leon Brits was found floating in the swimming pool at one of his properties in Pofadder in October last year, where he had been strangled with a dog chain and stabbed several times.
Valuables including firearms, a cellphone, Krugerrands, polished diamonds and cash were taken from the premises during the incident.
Suretha confessed to paying hitmen to carry out the murder, where items were stolen from the house during a staged robbery.
According to the plea explanation, the deceased spoilt her financially with gifts and gave her “the attention she needed”.
“When the accused was 14 years old and still immature, she met the deceased who was 25 years old at the time. He took her to places she had never been before. At the time when she met the deceased, she was not sexually active. The deceased became a father figure to her and her boyfriend.”
It was indicated that Suretha suffered emotional and financial trauma following the death of her biological father when she was nine years old.
“As a result of the deceased’s maturity and the accused’s immaturity and the deceased’s ability to spoil her, the accused was manipulated into a sexual relationship with Leon at the age of 14 years.
“As a result, she fell pregnant when she was 15 years old. The deceased blamed the accused for falling pregnant and insisted that she have an abortion when she was 12 weeks pregnant with twins, notwithstanding her protestations.”
The plea agreement pointed out that the accused was obliged to undergo an “extremely painful and traumatic” abortion.
“The deceased took her to a place where the abortion was performed while he waited for her in the car park.
“The abortion caused the accused to suffer from post-traumatic stress while she had to undergo a series of surgical procedures to mitigate the consequences of permanent injuries sustained during the abortion procedure.”
It was indicated that the deceased was a “dominant partner” in the relationship, where he was “sexually demanding”.
“When the accused was in Grade 12 she worked for the deceased in the kitchen of the Pofadder Hotel after the school day had ended. The deceased insisted that she have another abortion when she fell pregnant again. However, due to her previous experience and ill-health consequences the accused had the courage to refuse. She gave birth to a girl.”
After leaving school in 2009 she continued working full-time at the hotel for the deceased in the kitchen, as a waitress as well as a receptionist.
“She married the deceased when she was 19 years old and in the same year fell pregnant with twins. The twin boys were born at 28 weeks.”
The plea agreement explained that their relationship deteriorated, where the deceased was “constantly manipulative, jealous and had regular temper outbursts leading to the assault of the accused”.
“The relationship turned into an abusive relationship. The deceased told the accused that he would take everything away from her, including her children, if she made it known to the public that he was involved in an extramarital affair, when she confronted him.”
The accused acknowledged that the deceased was a “good and caring father” to their three children and took good care of their material needs.
Children’s court proceedings are under way to enable the three minor children to be taken into foster care by the accused’s sister, with whom they are currently residing.
The executor of the estate is contributing towards the maintenance of the children.
Suretha conceded that she was given the opportunity to develop herself as a successful businesswoman, where the deceased supported her in this regard.
“The accused co-managed the hotel and ran her own business independent from the hotel.”
She also admitted that she engaged in extramarital affairs while she was married to the deceased.
“The accused on several occasions pleaded with the deceased that it would be better for them to divorce but he was extremely jealous and bid her that divorce was not an option.
“After 15 years of being in an abusive relationship, the accused could no longer bear to be with the deceased and contacted a friend, Jacque van Vuuren, to assist in finding someone to kill her husband.”
She allegedly paid R75,000 to Van Vuuren to hire contract killers and later made another payment of R125,000.
While she had allegedly agreed to pay another R200,000 after the murder was executed, the balance was never paid.
Suretha advised that she did not know the identity of the contract killers. She remained in Kakamas when the murder was committed on October 7.
She met Van Vuuren in Pofadder to collect the cellphone that they had been communicating with.
“It was only when she went to the house that she realised that the deceased was not shot but had been stabbed and strangled. She was told that the deceased was robbed of three firearms and cash, although she knew that the persons would rob the deceased to make it look like a robbery and not a premeditated murder.”
Suretha was represented by advocate Barry Roux SC upon instruction of Sandy du Plessis from De Korte Du Plessis Attorneys, while advocate Hannes Cloete appeared on behalf of the State.