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The police in the Eastern Cape have welcomed the lengthy sentences handed out to accused who attacked two elderly women on a farm in Alexandria in the early hours of January 29.

Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga welcomed the sentence handed out to 51-year-old Lumnkile Manene and 37-year-old Zukile Vena.

She said: “Successful convictions and sentences are based on several pillars including thorough crime scene management, meticulous statements, honest witness testimony and a solid relationship between the investigator and the National Prosecuting Authority.”

Police said one of the women had been a widow for three weeks at the time of the attack.

The widow was in the company of a friend who came to comfort her when the pair was attacked, police said.

“Three suspects entered the house and the incessant barking of her three dogs prompted the victim to investigate, and as she entered the lounge, she saw the men.

“The suspects tied the wrists of both ladies with cable ties and bound their legs with packaging tape to the legs of the chairs. They then ransacked the house, took an undisclosed amount of cash, a firearm and fled the scene after approximately two hours with an Isuzu bakkie which belonged to the victim. Both victims were severely traumatised and sustained bruises,” police said.

Information of the incident was circulated after one of the victims managed to free herself and alerted the SAPS, police said.

“The speedy response by members of the Port Elizabeth Flying Squad resulted in the arrest of two suspects and the recovery of the vehicle approximately one and a half hours after the crime was perpetrated, in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth.

“Several items were found in the possession of the other suspects including, applications for a firearm license belonging to the owner of the farm, safe keys, cash, household items taken during the robbery and the .38 Special Revolver which was taken from the farm.”

Police said Manene was a well known and notorious criminal with two previous convictions of robbery and escape from lawful custody and he was on parole.

“He was released a month prior to the incident.”

Zukile Vena had five previous convictions, three for housebreakings, one for theft and one for robbery, the police added.

“Mphathi Advocate Nkomonde, who was shot at the scene, was on bail for a robbery on a farm in Somerset East.”

When handing down the sentence, Judge Bloem of the Grahamstown High Court emphasised that it was a planned robbery and on their arrival at the scene they came with bolt cutters, knowing that the house was secure. They also came with gloves, packaging tape, cable ties, and knives.

Advocate Jan Engelbrecht from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions worked closely with the investigating officer to prepare the case.

The two suspects remained in custody for the duration of the trial.

Earlier this month, both the accused were found guilty of count one, housebreaking with intent to commit robbery and count two, aggravated robbery.

Accused number one, Manene, was sentenced to four years imprisonment for housebreaking with intent to commit robbery, and for aggravated robbery, 20 years imprisonment.

Accused number two, Vena was sentenced to four years imprisonment for housebreaking with intent to commit robbery and 15 years imprisonment for aggravated robbery.

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu.)

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