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sa les pic9 Dec 2011- Durban- Instead of sitting in an exam hall, Mario Tsawe occupied the bench in the dock at the Durban High Court on Tursday, awaiting his sentence for the murder of his elderly gay lover and the man’s sister.

Addressing Acting Judge Karthy Govender on Thursday, Tsawe’s lawyer, Vijay Sivakumoor, told the high court that the accused was enrolled for a project management course at Unisa and would have been sitting down for his exams had he not been involved in the murders of Dennis Roberts, 75, and Crystal Roberts, 71.

The court heard that the dreadlocked 29-year-old obtained a diploma in civil engineering with two distinctions in 2008.

In 2009, he completed two further courses in plan drawing, in which he also obtained certificates.

Sivakumoor argued that Tsawe would use his time in prison profitably to complete his studies so that he was not a burden to society.

Earlier this week Tsawe pleaded guilty to both murders as well as two counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances. In his plea Tsawe said he had met his lover, Roberts, on a gay internet site and a three-month relationship ensued.

The couple lived with Roberts’s sister in Durban’s northern suburbs in August, after Tsawe lost his job, but because of continuous conflict in the household, Roberts rented a flat for his young partner in Durban’s South Beach area.

Tsawe said the sister did not “take to him” and accused him of being a “sponge”.

Not long after Roberts moved in with Tsawe in October, the relationship soured.

Tsawe said Roberts and a friend, “Ricky”, entered the flat, assaulted him and removed some of the furniture.

Roberts also cut Tsawe off financially, stopping payment towards rent for the flat.

Tsawe conspired to lure Roberts back into his life by logging on to the website where they met, under a different name, and arranged a meeting.

Tsawe’s friend Sthe Ximba posed as “Ernest” and met Roberts at the Formula 1 lodge on November 27.

Tsawe arrived at the lodge and strangled the elderly man while Ximba assaulted him.

They took Roberts’s car. The next day, Tsawe and Ximba went to the sister’s house in Glen Hills to retrieve a laptop and cellphone containing messages Tsawe had sent to Roberts.

Tsawe strangled the woman with the same electric cord he used to strangle her brother. Ximba stabbed her in the neck.

Roberts’s cellphone, laptop and bank cards were taken. A police special task team hunted Tsawe and arrested him in the Eastern Cape. He admitted to the crimes.

Yesterday Sivakumoor argued that the murder of Roberts was not premeditated. He said the aim was to rob the deceased, not kill him. Tsawe is expected to be sentenced on Monday.

Article by Rizwana Sheik Umar