...his 'conscience bothered him tremendously' after hearing that 'Aunty Helen' had died and gave this as the reason why he gave his 'full co-operation' after his arrest ...
A 23-YEAR-old man has been found guilty of stabbing a well-known Douglas woman, who he referred to as Aunty Helen, to death in a bank before running off with a suitcase containing over R45 000 last year.
Tebogo Avis Augustino Masire yesterday pleaded guilty to the murder of Helen Janse van Vuuren, 61, and admitted to twice stabbing her in the back while he was standing behind her at the Douglas Absa bank, where she was waiting to deposit money.
The incident occurred on August 28 last year and Janse van Vuuren died on the scene.
Masire also pleaded guilty to a count of robbery with aggravating circumstances after he stole a bag containing R47 297 in cash from Janse van Vuuren after stabbing her.
He was also found guilty on a charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, referring to the assault on Siphamandla Mkhize, who he also stabbed during the incident on August 28 last year.
Janse van Vuuren was employed by the Spar Supermarket in Douglas. On the morning of the incident, she walked from Spar with a bag containing R47 297 in cash to the Absa bank to make a deposit on behalf of the supermarket. While standing in line at the bank, Janse van Vuuren was stabbed.
Mkhize, who was performing a transaction at the bank, witnessed the stabbing and he ran to the entrance door and was there confronted by Masire, who stabbed him with a knife before fleeing.
During his plea explanation, Masire said that he had planned the robbery of Janse van Vuuren, who was known to him, the day before the incident and even cut holes in a fence around the shopping centre that night as an escape route.
He said that on the morning of the incident he was armed with a knife and waited in the Spar’s parking lot.
“Aunty Helen came out and walked to the bank. I went closer and Aunty Helen went into the bank. I went inside the bank and stood behind her. There were three men in front of her. All I could think of is how much money there was in the bag she was holding. I then took the knife (out of my sleeve) and stabbed her with it. She screamed and I stabbed her again. She fell and the suitcase fell out of her hand. I grabbed the suitcase and ran to the door,” said Masire.
“One of the three men who were in front of her also ran to the door and I stabbed him. He then moved away from the door. I went to the fence and escaped through the holes I made in the fence, running to the veld. Here I took the money from the suitcase and placed it in my backpack. I also changed my clothes.
“When I was close to the GWK factory, I placed the money in a black bag and hid it there. I took R50 of the money and went to the Caltex garage to buy a cooldrink. While at the cashier, I heard that Aunty Helen had died.”
Masire added that he was arrested later that day.
He concluded his statement by saying that his “conscience bothered him tremendously” after hearing that “Aunty Helen” had died and gave this as the reason why he gave his “full co-operation” following his arrest, including making a full admission of guilt, pointing out the knife to the police and pleading guilty to all charges.
Masire’s legal representative, advocate Dries van Tonder, told the court that his client was aware that the first two counts (robbery with aggravating circumstances and murder) carried prescribed minimum sentences of life imprisonment, unless good reasons for lighter sentences existed.
The State prosecutor, advocate Keageletse Ilanga, accepted the guilty plea, saying that Masire’s plea statement was in accordance with all the facts of the matter.
Judge Cecile Williams then found Masire guilty on all three charges and postponed the matter to later this year for a pre-sentencing report to be compiled.