7 Dec 2011- Durban, South Africa- He is facing a lifetime in prison, but Mario Tsware appeared calm on Tuesday when he pleaded guilty to the murders of his former lover, Dennis Roberts, 75, and Roberts’s sister, Crystal Roberts, 71, both of whom he strangled with the same electrical cord.
It has been just more than a week since Roberts’s body was discovered in a room at a Durban hotel and, the following day, that of his sister at her Glenhills home.
The police arrested Tsware in the Eastern Cape and he immediately confessed to the crimes.
On Tuesday, his guilty plea – read out in an almost empty court room – was confirmed by acting Durban High Court Judge Karthy Govender.
Relatives of the siblings were told of the court hearing, but chose not to attend.
What emerged during the plea was that Tsware did not act alone and that the police were looking for the man he says helped him, Sthe Ximba.
Tsware, 29, said he had first met Roberts in June this year through a gay internet site and they had begun a relationship. Roberts’s sister had never liked him, calling him “a sponge”.
When Tsware lost his job in August, Roberts invited him to live with him and his sister at their Begonia Road home. However, because of conflict, Roberts rented him a flat in South Beach, paying for the rent, for his furniture to be brought from Pretoria and for new furniture.
Roberts eventually moved in, but their relationship soured because the older man constantly wanted sex and would threaten to withhold groceries and the rent if he did not get what he wanted.
“He forced me to introduce him to my parents, which I was reluctant to do because I was a closet homosexual,” he said.
When Roberts moved out he broke the flat’s gate, assaulted Tsware and removed furniture. He also cancelled the lease and refused to take Tsware’s calls, leaving him feeling “abandoned and abused”.
In an attempt to lure Roberts back – and rob him of his bank cards – Tsware created a fictitious name, Ernest, logged on to the website and invited him to meet in “the dark room” at Adultworld. That meeting didn’t happen. Roberts then called him – believing him to be Ernest – to arrange to meet at the Formula 1 Hotel.
Tsware said he enlisted the help of Ximba. Soon after Roberts arrived, Tsware surprised him, and he and Ximba strangled him with an electrical cord.
Roberts had R300 and six condoms on him. Ximba took the money and Tsware took Roberts’s car, deciding to go to the Glenhills house the next day to get Roberts’s laptop and cellphone, which he believed would lead the police to him.
He went with Ximba, and Crystal seemed “surprised” to see him. He said he had come to return Roberts’s toolbox, the flat keys and a remote control, and that he wanted to get his cellphone charger.
While Crystal was looking for the charger, “I drew the same cord that I used to strangle Dennis and wrapped it around her neck”.
As with Roberts, he and Ximba pulled on opposite ends of the cord until she collapsed. Later, after searching for and finding Roberts’s cellphone, wallet and laptop, he discovered that Ximba had also stabbed Crystal in neck, claiming that she had still been alive.
They fled to Verulam, where he drew R4 000 from Roberts’s accounts, which he shared with Ximba. After abandoning the car, he sold the laptop for R1 500 before going to the Eastern Cape.
He confessed to both charges of murder and to two counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances. The State, represented by advocate Rea Mina, and defence attorney Vijay Sivakumoor will address the court on sentence on Thursday.
By Tania Broughton