Judge Judith Cloete slapped the convicted murderer known as “the Table Mountain killer” with two life sentences in the Cape Town high court on Thursday morning for the murders of a hiker and cyclist in 2018.
“The fact that he planned to attack solitary cyclists, elderly people and children shows that he is a coward,” said Cloete as 32-year-old convicted murderer Blessing Bveni stood in the dock wearing a mask.
The Zimbabwean national attacked multiple hikers and cyclists in the Table Mountain National Park in the first quarter of 2018. He viciously murdered two men, Doug Notten and Ian McPherson, during his reign of terror on the popular mountain trails near Fish Hoek.
Bveni was apprehended two days after cyclist McPherson’s murder in March 2018, thanks in part to a SANParks master tracker Sergeant JJ Minye, who tracked Bveni’s foot prints in the sandy paths over the dunes.
The trail led past a security complex where infrared cameras captured Bveni pushing the victim’s mountain bike. Minye also helped lead police to Masiphumelele, where McPherson’s stolen items were discovered.
The shop owner in possession of the stolen bicycle said he had bought the item from a Zimbabwean called Blessing.
Police then tracked Bveni down to his home in Philippi, where they found a bloodstained shirt which DNA would later prove belonged to McPherson.
Bveni was also convicted of multiple counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and robbery.
Judge Cloete revealed that Bveni was educated to a grade 6 level in Zimbabwe before he began doing odd jobs to gain an income. Bveni said because of political arrest and a lack of opportunities in Zimbabwe, he came to SA illegally.
“According to him, his presence has always been illegal by moving in and out of SA by paying bribes without having a passport,” said Cloete.
Once in SA, Bveni started by working at a construction site — but when work dried up, he began buying and selling goods to support his wife and mother, who still live in Zimbabwe with his three children, aged seven, five and three.
Cloete said he became quite successful at buying and selling, where he was earning between R4,000 and R5,000 per month at the time of his arrest in March 2018.
However, in 2017 he chose to begin robbing people in the Fish Hoek area of Table Mountain National Park.
As his attacks became more frequent, his modus operandi became more violent. He attacked his victims in secluded areas of the park and without hesitation. He would catch his victims off-guard and begin stabbing them “in a frenzy”.
A surviving victim of one of these attacks, Malcolm Esterhuizen fought off Bveni as he repeatedly attempted to stab him with a screwdriver.
“I don’t think he really cares about what he has to do to get what he wants, or how much hurt and pain and misery he has to cause in the process,” said Esterhuizen outside the courtroom.
Judge Cloete sentenced Bveni to two life sentences plus 33 years for his crimes, which will run concurrently.