- Sobbing child was tied up and gagged before being murdered in bath ‘because he could identify them’
- The three men assaulted the father with a golf club and blade before shooting both adults
- Family dog had stomach cut open
- Trio worked for the family and said killings were revenge for being badly treated
Even in a country that sees 44 murders a day, the case has left the public horrified.
A gang of robbers gunned down a father, raped and murdered his wife.
Then, in a final act of sickening brutality, they drowned the couple’s 12-year-old son in scalding bath water.
Amaro Viana was murdered to prevent him from identifying the three housebreakers who carried out the raid in suburban South Africa.
The gang included the family’s gardener and the son of a domestic servant.
It was claimed they were motivated by the way they had been treated by the Viana family.
Appearing in court yesterday, the gardener Patrick Radebe, 24, confessed to being part of the gang which broke into their home in October last year.
Vereeniging Regional Court heard that, after gaining access to the house in Walkerville, a suburb of Johannesburg, the gang lay in wait for Amaro’s engineer father Tony, 53, to arrive home.
When he walked through the front door, they attacked him with golf clubs and a machete-like knife known as a panga before tying him up and ordering him to tell them how to open the family safe.
When Mr Viana’s wife Geraldine, 43, and her son returned to the property, they too fell victim.
Mother and son were tied up in separate rooms.
Two of the men then raped Mrs Viana before both she and her husband were shot dead.
According to their court confession, Radebe and his co-accused Sipho Mbele, 21, realised that the couple’s son, if left alive, may be able to identify them to police.
‘We went to the bathroom and turned on the tap,’ the pair’s statement read, ‘We gagged him because he was crying. We forced him into the bath face down, knowing that he would drown.’
The Viana’s family dog was also killed when its stomach was slit open with a knife.
Thankfully Mr Viana’s daughter from his first marriage, Gabriela, was not at her father’s home when the robbers struck.
Despite a recent improvement in crime statistics, South Africa remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
An average of just under 44 people a day are murdered there.
This compares with 1.5 in England and Wales, which has a similar sized population.
Apart from war zones, South Africa’s murder rate is surpassed only by Latin American nations embroiled in gruesome battles between drug gangs.
Dianne Kohler Barnard, the country’s shadow Minister of Police, said the murder of the Viana family was ‘awful’.
‘Women are raped and people are shot every day,’ the opposition Democratic Alliance politician said. ‘But the fact that a 12-year-old was killed is horrific. There will be shock.’
Mbele and Radebe pleaded guilty to charges of housebreaking with intent to steal, aggravated robbery, rape, three counts of murder, possession of an unlicensed firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition and intentional damage to property.
The culprits’ lawyer Charmaine Castleman claimed the men carried out the attack to somehow ‘get back’ at Mrs Viana for the way she had previously treated them.
Describing the sexual assault, she said: ‘First Mbele raped her while Radebe helped him by standing on her head.
‘Then Radebe raped her while Mbele held a pillow over her face.’
A third gang member, Sphiwe David Motaung, 20, had previously pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal, aggravated robbery and damage to property.
According to one report they were led back to their cells smiling after being in court.