A man who stabbed and beheaded 15-year-old Lee Adams for muti, was sentenced to 22 years in jail in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.
Aljar Swartz would, however, serve a maximum of just over 19 of these years because his sentence was backdated to his arrest in October 2013.
The sentence was taken together for a count of murder and three counts of incitement to commit murder.
Dressed in an army camo jacket and dark pants, he looked up briefly to the public gallery but showed no emotion as he was led away.
His behaviour fitted the observations of various psychiatric and psychological experts, who used descriptions like “callous”, “heartless” and a “manipulative psychopath”.
Judge Elize Steyn said it was clear that he was an accomplished liar who liked attention and power.
She rejected his claims of demon possession as a calculated lie and said any hallucinations were likely brought on by substance abuse.
Satanism was not a mitigating factor.
Head found in backyard
Swartz admitted to targeting the teen so he could sell the body parts to a sangoma.
The 15-year-old victim’s face and neck had stab wounds, bruises and abrasions.
His body was found in an abandoned school while his head was later found in Swartz’s backyard.
The court was not convinced he had shown remorse and believed he might have the propensity to revert to a life of crime.
While he was only 17 at the time of the murder, Steyn said he was mature for his years and she did not believe “he acted with the thoughtlessness of youth”.
An aggravating factor was that he already had a previous conviction related to violence.
However, his youth counted in his favour and he was sentenced in terms of the Child Justice Act.
The court gave him the benefit of the doubt that he may be susceptible to rehabilitation.
Outside court, relatives comforted the deceased’s sobbing mother Gaynor Adams. They explained she was not yet in a position to talk to journalists.
His aunt Johanna Adams said they had expected a harsher sentence.
“We thought it was a bit too little but we must make peace with it because the case is done,” she said in Afrikaans.
She added that Swartz was “also a child” but what he did was very wrong.
“We forgive him because it is not our judgement. The Lord must judge.”