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Murdered train driver knew he was in danger an hour before being shot dead

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Two men have been convicted of the murder.

MOURNING: Tanya Botha's train driver husband was murdered in 2016. Picture: Siphephile Sibanyoni/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – Train driver Peter Botha sent his wife Tanya a text message, warning her that he was in imminent danger an hour before he was shot dead.

“Danger,” he typed in a WhatsApp message at 11.30am. He died a 12.42pm.

On Wednesday, the Western Cape High Court convicted two men, Jathiem Hamid and Dorian Diedericks, for Botha’s murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and possession of illegal firearms and ammunition.

A third man, Cedric Andrew, was found guilty of possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition, while a minor, who cannot be named, was acquitted of all charges.

Botha was killed at the Netreg station’s platform on July 16, 2016. He was on a refresher course where he trained new train drivers.

He was a father of two children, aged 21 and 18.

His wife broke down in court after Judge Mark Sher read out his judgment.

“I am a bit disappointed that the one accused was given a second chance when my husband was never given the same chance.

“My children are still struggling to come to terms with their father’s death. The 18-year-old girl was heartbroken when at her matric ball because her father never got to see her,” she sobbed.

CCTV footage from that day showed three men approaching Botha. One of the men is dressed in an orange top, another a dark top and the third in a white top.

She said the men’s facial features could not be made out due to the poor quality of the video footage.

“There seems to be a physical interaction; the man with the white top takes something from the deceased. There is a struggle, the deceased falls and the one with an orange top raises his hand to his waist, takes out an object and then raises it in the air,” the judge said.

The bullet went through Botha’s thigh and to his chest. His leg was in the air and his thigh was positioned close to his chest as he was falling.

Hamid and Diedericks, childhood best friends, were implicated by Diedericks’ younger brother, who was 14 at the time of the murder.

The brother testified that he saw the two flee from the railway station across a field, when a machine gun, similar to the ones carried by cash in transit guards, fell to the ground.

He told the court that the accused picked it up, put it in a bag and ran to Andrew’s home.

Police found the firearm the following day hidden in a bag under Andrew’s bed.

The cartridge was also in the bag.

“Whoever fired the shot was cold-blooded enough to pick up the cartridge after firing the shot,” Judge Sher said.

He said the State had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the three belonged to a notorious Netreg gang called the Dixie Boys.

“After the incident, a known leader of the gang ordered that accused one and two (Hamid and Diedericks) be transported to his house. On arrival, he asked them where was the stuff,” Judge Sher said.

The judge appealed to the minor to change his ways.

“I am speaking to you like a father would speak to his son. You have been given an opportunity to redeem and rehabilitate yourself. Make something of your life,” Judge Sher said.

Sentencing proceeding will commence on June 19.

@Zoey_Dano

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Cape Argus