The High Court of South Africa: Western Cape Division has sentenced the ex-husband of a former policewoman, to life imprisonment and his co-accused to 15 years imprisonment, following their conviction for her premeditated murder.

The court sentenced Ashley John October, to life imprisonment after he killed his ex-wife, Charlene October, for life insurance money. His co-accused Taswell van der Rheede was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, as the court showed him mercy for his cooperation during the investigation and the trial.

October was convicted on charges of incitement to rob and murder, conspiracy to rob and murder, housebreaking with the intent to rob and murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder and attempting to obstruct the administration of justice. The court convicted Rheede on charges of housebreaking with the intent to rob and to murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder and attempting to obstruct the administration of justice.

Ashley John October and Charlene October were divorced with two children. It emerged in court as State Adv. Leon Snyman, carefully peeled the evidence, that October hired hitmen to kill his ex-wife, but both did follow through with the murder. As part of piecing together his case, Adv Snyman called Ashley Kerr, as a state witness who told the court that in the second half of 2011, October asked him to kill his ex-wife. The accused told Kerr, that there was a huge life policy on his former wife and that he was a beneficiary. He wanted Kerr to enter the house through a small window in the passage, slit her throat and stab her multiple times and he would reward him with a life policy payment.

He also approached Reagan Zietsman, in July 2012, to murder his ex-wife, and promised him between R30000 and R40000 as payment for the murder. He approached him again on 30 July 2012, and Zietsman gave in to the pressure his employer applied on him, entered the deceased’s house and hid behind the couches until the early hours of the next day. He found the deceased asleep with her child. He felt that as a parent he couldn’t follow through with the murder. He later told his parents, and his father accompanied him to the deceased’s house, and they told her of the instructions from her ex-husband. The deceased obtained a court order against her former husband following that attempt on her life.

After his failed attempts to hire drug users who were his employees, the determined October entered thedeceased’s house using a spare key, assaulted her and strangled her using a rope. He then attempted to make it look like she hanged herself.  Her body was discovered the next morning by her son Ethan Telemachus, who entered the house through a window. The accused even cried, ‘my wife my wife’ after Telemachus told him about the discovery of the deceased in the house.

Adv. Snyman also told the court that after receiving 50% of the deceased’s pension money following their divorce in 2015, an investigation revealed that the accused was financially stressed. 

“It is respectfully submitted that a golden thread runs through the evidence in this case, which cannot be ignored. The accused number chooses persons that are in his employment, that are unsophisticated and who use illicit substances to do his bidding. It is submitted that the reason for this, is they are easily persuaded to go along with his plans and if they are caught, they will have a hard time holding up as witnesses in court.

The Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv. Nicolette Bell congratulated the prosecution and investigation team, and further committed the NPA in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide. 

“We will continue to vigorously prosecute the scourge of GBV+F as it encroaches on the right to dignity. We condemn any form of violence against women and children, and we will continue adopting our victim-centred approach in these cases as we are lawyers of the people. We will always strive to ensure justice for victims of these heinous crimes,” she assured. 

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