Johan Pieter Sonnenberg, a Free State farmer, has been sentenced to three life terms for his direct involvement in the murder of his two brothers and friend.
As reported by Times Live, the Virginia High Court finally closed the chapter on Sonnenberg’s triple murder case involving his two brothers, Michael and Desmond Grant, and a close friend of the family, 23-year-old Riaan Ruiters.
What drove Sonnenberg to kill his brothers?
According to police spokesperson, Brigadier Motantsi Makhele, the triple murder case stems from 2014.
Michael, Desmond and Riaan were reported missing at the Christiana police station, in the North West after days had gone by without any sign of life from them.
Investigators were baffled as to how three young males, who were very familiar with the outskirts of the province, could disappear without a trace.
Investigators were informed of Sonnenberg by witnesses who stated that the three young gentlemen were last seen alive with the 62-year-old.
Sonnenberg was a prominent figure in his community. He owned a game farm in the Free State and had his hands in the cutthroat diamond mining business.
The last time anyone saw Michael, Desmond and Riaan alive was when they were crossing over a bridge that borders between Christiana and Hertzogville in the Free State, heading towards Sonnenberg’s farm.
Free State farmer gets triple life
As a matter of procedure, investigators followed the lead and paid Sonnenberg a visit. It was the foul stench of death that alerted officers to the unthinkable.
“During the search, a foul smell was detected and national forensic services were contacted from Pretoria to help in exhuming the bodies in the shallow graves,” Brigadier Makhele recalled.
The evidence that was collected in Sonnenberg’s property paid a huge role in sealing the case for prosecutors. Five years later, the matter was brought to book and Sonnenberg will spend the rest of his life in jail.