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NC man loses appeal of life sentences

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A Northern Cape man, who appealed his two life sentences after he killed the mother and grandmother of his child, has lost his appeal.

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A NORTHERN Cape man, who appealed his two life sentences after he killed the mother and grandmother of his child, has lost his appeal.

Robin Cloete was found guilty in the Namaqualand Circuit Division in Springbok 12 years ago.

Cloete faced a total of six charges, including two charges of murder, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, assault and two charges of malicious damage to property. He received life sentences for both the murder charges.

He initially applied for leave to appeal on June 18, 2009 and it was then discovered that the record of the trial sentencing proceedings had been lost.

“There was an inordinate delay in hearing this appeal because the record had to be reconstructed. The handwritten notes of (Judge) Majiedt are full and detailed and appear to be a complete narrative of the evidence led in the proceedings. Read with the judgment on the merits a full picture emerges of the trial and sentencing proceedings which resulted in the appellant’s conviction,” Judge Mamosebo, who heard the appeal, pointed out in her judgment, which was delivered last week.

“An incomplete record does not automatically entitle an appellant to the setting aside of his sentence. The test is whether or not the incomplete record makes it impossible to consider and adjudicate such appeal.”

She added that although the judgment on sentence did not form part of the record, it was evident from the reconstructed record and judgment on the merits that Cloete had a fair trial.

“It is also common cause between the parties that the reconstructed record is sufficient for the proper consideration of this appeal.”

Summing up the background of the incident, which happened on August 25, 2007, Judge Mamosebo pointed out that Cloete was under the influence of alcohol at the time and attempted to make contact with the mother of his child, Shannon Wippenaar at her parental home.

“He became increasingly incensed when her mother, Agatha Wippenaar, prevented him from seeing her. Undeterred, the appellant returned a second time, armed with a knife and forced his way inside the house. He was aggressive and assaulted an elderly lady present in the house before pursuing Shannon and Agatha as they fled in terror to seek refuge at a neighbour’s house.

“Cloete kicked down the door of the neighbour’s house, tripped the aged Agatha in the kitchen, assaulted and fatally stabbed her. He then searched the house, found Shannon hiding in the bathroom and attacked and stabbed her too. He then pursued the bloodied and wounded Shannon as she ran into the street in a desperate attempt to escape. The medical evidence shows three deep stab wounds inflicted with substantial force on Agatha and two deep stab wounds inflicted with substantial force on Shannon.”

Judge Mamosebo described the double murders as “horrific”.

“It was executed with shocking brutality against two defenceless women. Both died gruesome deaths. The murders are exacerbated as the appellant was in an intimate relationship with Shannon and had fathered a child with her.

“Cloete’s brazenness went beyond the commission of the crime as he thereafter blockaded himself inside Agatha’s house and proceeded to damage the property until he was forcibly extracted and arrested by the South African Police.”

She stated further that he also has a previous conviction for murder.

“In 1993 he fatally wounded his intimate partner by shooting her eight times. He was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment and released on parole in 2004.”

He also has previous convictions involving violence. “He was convicted of assault on February 17, 2007 whilst on parole. He assaulted Shannon on August 5, 2007, three weeks before the murder. Crimes such as these affect society at its core. Mothers and daughters cannot go about their everyday activities without fear for their safety.”

Handing down her judgment on the appeal, Judge Mamosebo stated that nothing had been put before the court which would warrant disturbing the sentence reached.

“There was no misdirection or striking disparity between the sentence imposed and that which this court considers appropriate. The trial court was justified, in our view, to impose a sentence of life imprisonment. In the result the appeal is dismissed.”