A killer who beat a Port Elizabeth pensioner to death was charged, convicted and given a life sentence in a matter of just over 48 hours.
Wandile Xana, 33, pleaded guilty yesterday in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court to murdering Sandra Haupt, 72, who was savagely attacked in a botched robbery last month.
He was arrested on Friday, charged in court on Monday, and convicted and jailed yesterday.
Haupt was found bloodied and unconscious in her Nazareth House retirement cottage by her husband, Peter, 75, shortly after he returned home on March 21.
Within minutes of giving a confession in court yesterday, Xana was sentenced to life for Haupt’s murder, with an additional 15 years for robbery and four years for burglary.
This means he has been convicted of 22 crimes since 1999.
At the time of his arrest, he was in custody at St Albans prison for a burglary two days after the murder at nearby premises in Hallack Road.
Police have since revealed that Xana admitted to having initially stolen a cellphone from the Haupts’ cottage before returning to their home when he saw Peter leave.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said Xana had scaled the perimeter wall and spied on Haupt in the garden.
“He then managed to sneak into the house via the unlocked front door,” she said.
“He heard the couple talking and managed to crawl into the house, steal a cellphone and then leave undetected.
“He then roamed around looking for other targets, when he saw the husband drive out by himself.”
Knowing Haupt was now home alone, Xana returned to the cottage.
“He entered the house again, knowing he would be able to overpower her,” Naidu said.
“During a confrontation inside the house, he beat her with [a] pickaxe handle and left her for dead.
“During his escape, he stole a laptop and cellphone before again scaling the perimeter wall.”
Shortly after the attack, Peter returned home to find a badly beaten Haupt lying in a pool of blood.
Peter’s daughter, Claire Hubbard, said the conviction brought an element of closure for the family.
“We are glad justice has been served. The police did a good job in finding the culprit,” she said.
Asked how her father was coping, Hubbard said: “Under the circumstances, he is doing okay and has put on a brave face.”
Xana was linked to Haupt’s murder by fingerprints found in her home.
Mount Road Cluster acting commander Brigadier Keith Meyer congratulated investigating officer Detective Constable Ridwaan Baatjies on a thorough investigation.
“It is only through meticulous investigation that a suspect can be arrested and convicted, all in a few days,” he said.
“Our detectives play a pivotal role in ensuring that perpetrators of crime get lengthy sentences.”