The High Court of South Africa: Western Cape Division has sentenced former police officer and Piketberg Court Orderly, Richard Smit, to life imprisonment, following his conviction on assault common, premeditated murder, attempted murder, driving under the influence of alcohol, handling a firearm whilst under the influence of alcohol and a pointing a firearm. Smit pleaded guilty to all charges the State preferred against him, but denied the murder of his lover, Natasha Booise, was premeditated. In a record two-day trial, the court confirmed that State Adv Rene Uys had proved premeditation and sentenced the accused accordingly.

The State alleged that on 2 January 2022, the accused drove to his girlfriend’s house looking for her, incessantly sent her messages and called her questioning her whereabouts. He saw the deceased on Main Road, Piketberg, while she was busy taking pictures with family members. At the time he was with two women in the vehicle who he claimed were his drinking buddies and he planned to have sex with one of them later. He demanded the deceased to go with him, but she refused telling him she was with her family members. As the argument grew between the couple, the deceased’s cousin Roslin Kaaiman joined and a further argument between the accused and Kaaiman ensued. Booise and Kaaiman turned their backs and walked away. As they were halfway on the road running away from his vehicle, Smit fired 7 shots with three bullets hitting Booise. She died on the scene, in front of her family members, including her 13-year-old son who was present during the family outing. After shooting Boosie, he drove off and later handed himself to the police.

As part of her arguments, Adv Uys called two witnesses and played a CCTV footage of Booise’s fatal shooting. She further argued that Smit intended to kill Booise as he had a firearm out, switched it from safety to ready to shoot and could not give reasons why he had the firearm out. She further argued that his conduct throughout the day was that of someone hunting her. Before moving away from his vehicle, she pleaded with him not to use the firearm. Her defiance to go with him is the reason he shot her, she argued.

In aggravation of the sentence, Adv Uys submitted three victim impact statements that were compiled with the assistance of the High Court Preparation Officer, Sophie Petlele. She also submitted his previous conviction record which revealed that in 2015 the accused was convicted of two counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and two counts of common assault. He was sentenced to 36 months wholly suspended. In 2018, he was convicted of a count of assault common, and he was fined R3 000-, or 12-months imprisonment wholly and ordered to pay R2000, as compensation to the victim. She further argued that domestic violence and gender-based violence were pandemics that affected small communities like Piketberg and that accused like Smit, a police officer and court orderly, need to be shown that they can go to jail for a long time.

Judge Andre Le Grange sentenced Smit to life imprisonment for premeditated murder, three years imprisonment for assault common, 10 years imprisonment for the attempted murder of Kaaiman, fined R6 000- or three years imprisonment for driving under the influence of alcohol and his driver’s license was suspended and 12 months imprisonment for pointing a firearm. He was declared unfit to possess a firearm.

WC Director of Public Prosecutions Adv Nicolette Bell hailed the sentence as befitting the crime. “I applaud the investigator from IPID who did a sterling job in putting this investigation together. I also applaud my prosecutor for putting up a convincing argument on the premeditation of the murder. I want to further commend the community of Piketberg who stood together during this trial and came forward to play their part to ensure not only a successful prosecution but also a fitting sentence. We hope the family of the deceased including her 13-year-old son will find solace in knowing that the accused will spend a long time in prison.”

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