Man who killed woman in bank queue sentenced to life

Kimberley –  A Northern Cape man has been sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing a well-known ‘tannie’ to death while she was waiting in a bank queue.

Tebogo Avis Augustino Masire received an additional 15 years for aggravated robbery and two years for assault.

Masire stabbed “Tannie” Helen Janse van Vuuren, 61, as she was affectionately known, three times in the back in the Absa bank in Douglas before running off with the cash that she was waiting to deposit for the local Spar where she worked.

Masire pleaded guilty to murdering Janse van Vuuren.

During sentencing on Monday, Northern Cape High Court Judge Cecile Williams said that even though no evidence was led and Masire expressed remorse over his actions, the aggravating circumstances far outweighed the mitigating circumstances.

Some of the mitigating circumstances Williams highlighted were that Masire was 23 years old at the time of the offence, he was in a relationship and has a two-year-old child.

“You grew up with your granny and aunt in Douglas where you completed your matric. Your mom lives in Pampierstad and you know the impoverished circumstances she lives under. After school you went to work at the OK Grocers in Douglas where you worked with Tannie Helen. She left soon after and started working at the Spar. It wasn’t long afterwards when you joined her at the Spar,” Williams said.

She pointed out that Masire had a poor work ethic. “You were late and absent and you were eventually dismissed four months before the incident. There was also talk of R20 000 worth of fresh produce going missing during your time there.”

Williams said that when Masire was unemployed he went to live with his mother in Pampierstad. “You knew the routine of the Spar and you started planning the fateful event of August 28 2018, on the Sunday before. You already had your escape route. You cut two holes in the fence on the property adjacent to the shop.

“Early on the Monday morning, you were to implement your plan. But because of high police visibility on the day, you shelved your plans.

“On the morning of August 28, you dressed in a hoodie with an orange overall jacket and put on sunglasses and gloves. You hid the knife in your sleeve.”

She added that Masire then followed the deceased from the Spar and stood behind her in the queue at the bank tellers.

“You then stabbed her and she screamed. You then stabbed her again. Siphamandla Mkhize tried to stop you, but you stabbed him and he ran away.” Williams said that Masire used the escape route through the fence, took R50 of the money he had stolen and hid the rest.

“You then threw the knife away. When police arrested you on the same day you confessed and pointed out where the knife was. You never showed police where the approximately R47 000 is and it has never been recovered.”

In handing down sentence, Williams said, taking all the circumstances into account and the impact on Janse van Vuuren’s family and the tight-knit Douglas community, the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating.

“This is a particularly despicable crime. The deceased was well-known to you and was only ever good to you. She was an elderly woman of 60 with a sickly husband and children and grandchildren.

“It would have been so much easier to just grab the bag of money from her or push her aside and take the money. Instead, like a coward, you stabbed her from behind. The fatal wound was inflicted with so much force it broke her seventh and eighth rib and penetrated her aorta.”

109257074 - Man who killed woman in bank queue sentenced to life
Helen Janse van Vuuren

Williams added that Masire’s probation officer’s report indicated that he was remorseful.

“You know the impact that it had on this family as your own uncle, who was a father figure to you, was also killed in a stabbing incident. You also relayed to the probation officer that you can still hear her screams.

“You say you are sorry but you obviously gave a lot of thought to the crime. You planned your escape route and tried to disguise yourself. You had a chance to rethink the crime after the high police visibility. This didn’t deter you.

“You had a single-minded goal and one eye on the prize. Whoever stood in your way would pay.”

Williams said that to this day the stolen money had not been recovered and that it showed that the accused did not give the police his full co-operation. If he felt remorse he could have pointed out where the money was hidden.

“You were motivated by greed and you still are.” She said there was no need to deviate from the prescribed sentence for the offences.

“You are a danger to society. You showed no respect for others. I hereby sentence you to 15 years for aggravated robbery, life for murder and two years for assault.”

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