The man who killed a mother and daughter at Oribi Village, on Monday pleaded guilty saying he thought the mother was an intruder when he killed her.
Shane Steven Boucher (38) added that he killed the daughter because he was afraid she might tell police that he had killed her mother.
He was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment by the Pietermaritzburg high court after pleading guilty to the murder of Rita Westpfaha (82) and her special-needs daughter, Carol Westpfaha (58). They were found dead at their home in Oribi, on May 26.
During the court proceedings on Monday, Boucher kept on looking at the women’s family members who were sitting behind him. They were wearing T-shirts with photos of the women.
Boucher folded his hands and looked downwards. In his guilty plea, he said his mother had lived next door to the women for 15 years at Oribi Village before relocating to a retirement home. Boucher would visit his mother and had a good relationship with the Westpfahas.
On the day of the murder, he said he consumed three bottles of beer in Thornville, where he was working at a farm. Boucher said at 1 pm, he stopped drinking and decided to visit his friend, Harold, at Oribi Village. He then wanted to go to Durban to see his family. He packed a bag and went to Oribi Village, but when he arrived he found out that Harold was not home.
He then decided to visit Rita at her home for some drinks. He said he shared two quarts of beer with Rita and realised it was too late for him to leave for Durban. He said Rita suggested he sleep over and he agreed.
They went to bed at 11 pm as load shedding had begun. In the middle of the night, the accused went to drink water in the kitchen. It was still load shedding and the kitchen was dark. Whilst drinking water, he felt a presence behind him and without checking who it was, he drew his knife from his belt and stabbed Rita twice in the neck.
“He realised it was Rita and was shocked. He decided to get his bag from the bedroom and to run away,” said the plea.
On his way to the bedroom, he said, he came across Carol in the passage. He said he realised that Carol would see what he had done and tell the police.
He panicked and decided to kill her. Boucher said he then stabbed Carol twice in her head and she fell down. He then went to the bedroom to take his bag.
Since it was late and he had no transport, he decided to steal Rita’s car, a Chevrolet Spark and drove to the Bluff in Durban. He said he lived on the beach for two weeks until he was arrested on June 14, when he went to a supermarket to buy a loaf of bread.
Boucher was arrested by a police officer who recognised him as someone who was wanted.
He was sentenced to 15 years for the murder of Rita, 25 years for the murder of Carol and five years for vehicle theft. The sentences will run concurrently.
Judge Piet Koen said, “No sentence that I can impose can ever bring Rita and Carol back. The family will also suffer for years to come … ultimately, you’re the one who was responsible for this and you’re going to have to live with your conscience.”
Rita’s sister, Jenny Pienaar who was present in court, told The Witness that the family was still angry and devastated about the deaths.
“She was my baby sister and my best friend. They were loved by the community and Rita had the sweetest heart. They were both everything to me. Rita should be the one talking to you now, and I should be lying in that coffin not her. I’m 81 years old and I just can’t handle such a big loss,” said Pienaar.
She said two weeks prior to the incident, they were together, had a big laugh and Rita thanked her for looking after her and Carol. Pienaar said even though they were not happy with the sentence, all they wanted was closure and now they have it.