Game farmer Johan Pieter Sonnenberg (62), was sentenced this week by a High Court in Virginia, South Africa, for the murders of three men – Michael Grant (20), Jerome Desmond Grant (28) and Riaan Ruiters (23).
The deceased were reported missing to the Christiana South African Police Service (SAPS) in the North West back in February 2014.
They had last been seen that month, in the company of Sonnenberg, crossing the bridge to his game farm, Diamant, on the border between Christiana in the North West and Hertzogville in the Free State.
A search warrant was obtained by the Christiana detectives to search Sonnenberg’s game farm. They were joined by Strikfontein K9 unit and Christiana Diving Unit to comb through the game farm, with the help of members from Hertzogville and Christiana visible policing as well as Hertzogville Detectives.
During the search a foul smell was detected, and National Forensic Services were contacted from Pretoria to help in the exhumation of the bodies which were found in shallow graves.
The then 58-year-old game farm owner, Sonnenberg, was arrested for the murder of all three men. During a search at his house, police discovered different types of ammunition.
SAPS said in a statement Thursday that the Free State Provincial task team, led by Detective Lt Colonel Tankiso Sefuthi, was entrusted with investigations and ensured that justice was served.
The court yesterday sentenced Sonnenberg to three life imprisonment terms.
Free State Provincial Commissioner Lt General Moeketsi Sempe praised the task team for their thorough investigation of the case, and expressed hope that the sentencing will allow the families of the three deceased to find closure.