The Knysna Regional Court has sentenced Ashwill Harvey, to an effective 20 years imprisonment after he was convicted for robbing two women at knifepoint, who was strolling on Cola Beach in Sedgefield.

Harvey was charged and convicted on two counts of robbery, with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

In his plea and sentencing agreement, the 35-year-old father of three said, he was fishing on 29 July 2019, when he saw Shelly du Plessis, walking on the beach and decided to rob her. He had not caught any fish and did not have anything to give to his family. He walked up to her, grabbed her, and took out a knife but she grabbed the blade and sustained a cut in her hand.
He gagged her with duct tape in her mouth and bound her hands. He then guided her to the thick bushes to enable him to rob her without fear of interruption from other possible beachgoers. He took, without permission, her Samsung cellphone and fled.

On July 18, 2021, he was fishing at the same spot and had the same bad luck of not catching any fish, when he noticed Tamsen Emmerich, strolling on the beach. He decided to rob her, as he claimed that he did have anything to give to his family. With a knife in hand, he grabbed her, pushed her to the ground and put on duct tape on her mouth and hands. He then guided her into the thicker bushes to be able to rob her without the fear of interruption from other possible beachgoers.

He found her vehicle keys in her jacket and took them. He drove her vehicle but was chased by onlookers. He crashed the vehicle as he attempted to escape 
State prosecutor Johannes Marx argued: “It is always a serious offence to commit robbery with aggravating circumstances and the offence is more serious when committed against women in circumstances where they are particularly vulnerable, such as in this instance where the complainants were walking alone on the beach.

“The crimes were committed at a beach, which is a public space frequented by tourists and residents alike. Crime affects tourism, which has a detrimental impact on the economy of the local community. If public spaces become unsafe, it affects the Constitutional rights to freedom and security of all citizens.
“The Accused committed the second offence on 18 July 2021, while he was released on bail and appearing in court for the first offence he committed on 29 July 2019.”

The court sentenced Harvey to 15 years imprisonment, for Du Plessis’ robbery with aggravating circumstances, and 20 years imprisonment for Emmerich’s robbery with aggravating circumstances. It ordered the 15-year imprisonment sentence to be served concurrently with the 20-year imprisonment sentence.
The Director of Public Prosecutions in the Western Cape Adv. Nicolette Bell welcomes the sentence fitting the crimes committed against two vulnerable women, who were enjoying their walk on the beach. “We will continue to vigorously prosecute the scourge of gender-based violence as it encroaches on the right to dignity of women. We condemn any form of violence against women and children and I want to congratulate the investigation and prosecution teams who ensured this befitting sentence”. I also want to commend members of the community who assisted in chasing the accused leading to his arrest in the second robbery incident. The fight against crime, particularly the fight against -gender-based violence requires all of us to put our shoulders on the wheel to reduce this scourge. The days of its not my business are over. Your relative might be the victim next,” she said. 

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