GAY SEX KILLERS SENTENCED

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An earlier photo of Barney Van Heerden's killers in court

An earlier photo of Barney Van Heerden’s killers in court

Two men found guilty last week of killing Barney Van Heerden during a group sexual encounter at his Johannesburg home in September 2011 learned their fate on Wednesday.

Mthokozisi Ndlovu and Themba Maseko were each ordered to spend twenty years in jail for murder and ten years for robbery with aggravating circumstances, to run concurrently, in the Palmridge Circuit of the South Gauteng High Court.

A third man, Maxwell Nyathi, earlier admitted to the murder and was sentenced to 20 years in jail with possibility of parole after 16 years.

“Justice has been served. This is a victory for Barney, his family and for the gay community as a whole,” commented Angus MacArthur, a close friend of Van Heerden’s. He thanked State Advocate Ntlakaza for his “professional work” as well as the media, including 702, The Star, City Press and Mambaonline.com, that covered the case.

MacArthur admitted that he would have preferred a harsher sentence against the men but said that he believes that “the three convicted men will most probably not survive their sentences in jail alive due to various reasons including health, well-being and severe prison conditions. If they do make it out alive I will be surprised”.

During the trial it was revealed that one of the killers, Themba Maseko, had been in an on-off relationship with Van Heerden. He and the other two other colluded to visit the victim’s home and rob him. They attacked Van Heerden while engaged in group sex and wrapped his head with duct tape. He was then strangled or left to suffocate.

It’s been speculated that Van Heerden’s killing was linked to a series of other murders of gay men in Gauteng over the last three years, possibly perpetrated by a gang targeting gay men, but this has yet to be confirmed.

MacArthur told Mambaonline that he managed to “persuade State Advocate Ntlakaza to instruct the SAPS officials to hand over the DNA evidence from Barney’s case to all the other inspecting officers of the other outstanding cases in an attempt to link the three murderers in jail now to those other cases”.

It’s unclear why this had not happened earlier or why Ntlakaza has to be “persuaded” to do so.

Barney Van Heerden

Barney Van Heerden

In November 2012, the Gauteng provincial police and the ministry of police said that a police task team had been assembled to oversee the cases but the team appears to have had little success connecting the various investigations.

That same month, in response to questions by the DA in Parliament, the Minister of Police stated that there is a common perpetrator, known as Tony Boy, in four of the cases. No further information about this alleged killer and the links between the four cases has since been released. The police have also not revealed any more details about the alleged gang or if it exists.

Last month it was confirmed that two cousins, Phumlani Msimango and Nhlanhla Msimango, were in custody and would be charged with the Soweto murder of one of the other victims, Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo, also in September 2011. This case has also not been linked to any of the other attacks.

MacArthur, who has become something of a champion for the victims, said that he hopes that there will also soon be some resolution in the case of Rulov Senekal, a former ballet dancer and head of wardrobe at the Joburg Theatre, who was found bound and suffocated in his apartment in Braamfontein in February 2012.

MacArthur, however, slammed the investigation of Senekal’s case and accused the investigating officer of not acting “upon information I have obtained and provided to him that link certain people to Rulov and to the crime scene on the day”.

Gay and bisexual men have been warned to remain wary of who they meet online and who they allow into their homes as it is possible that other suspects may continue to target them.

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