May 8, 2016 Alex Eliseev

A “Cold and Lonely Death”

The Betty Ketani trial is over. Four years after they were arrested (and a marathon 2-year trial later) Carrington Laughton and brothers Carel and David Ranger have been convicted and sentenced for murdering Ketani in May 1999. Ketani’s brother, Mankinki, was in court for the sentencing and as he walked out he quoted none other than Nelson Mandela: “It’s been a long walk to freedom”.

By freedom, the family means closure. With sentencing done, the family can move forward. Betty’s daughter Bulelwa can start looking for work again, knowing it won’t be disrupted by subpoenas to testify in Johannesburg. Ketani’s youngest daughter, Lusanda can focus on her school work again and on raising her young son. Mankinki can get back to running his little shop in Barkly East.

In the coming days, the family will return to Joburg to fetch Betty Ketani’s spirit and to escort it back home. In Queenstown, across the road from their house, Betty’s children will bury her, seventeen years after she first disappeared. When they need guidance or just someone to talk to, they will be able to visit her grave. It’s too late for this year’s Mother’s Day, but next year they will have a grave to gather at. A painful chapter in their lives has ended.

In court, for the first time, Judge Natvarial Ranchod gave his impressions of the crimes that had been committed and the manner in which Ketani was murdered. You can listen to it here:

Carrington Laughton has been sentenced to an effective 30 years behind bars. The Ranger brothers, who have already spent four years in jail, will have to spend another four each. They were convicted of culpable homicide and got away with lighter sentences.

It’s important to also remember that three other accused, Conway Brown, Paul Toft-Nielsen and Dirk Reinecke pleaded guilty and received more lenient sentences.

Laughton and the Rangers applied for leave to appeal their convictions (and, in Laughton’s case, his sentence) but were refused it by Judge Ranchod. They will now have to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

Prosecutors Herman Broodryk and Namika Kowlas, along with investigating officer Captain Gerhard Van Wyk, will now busy themselves with extradition applications for outstanding suspects who they believe should face justice.

Although the trial has ended, there are still missing pieces in the #ColdCase puzzle. And if a 3-page confession to a murder can be discovered lying under a carpet 12 years after the crime, then who knows what the future holds.

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