Why was young Claudio Sanna murdered?

At 3am just after a full lunar eclipse, a group of chanting, singing black males shot dead the sleeping youth at a Vereeniging smallholding…

 January 21 2012 – Two previously unrecorded, deeply mysterious, eleven-year-old farm-murders have just been brought to our notice by Mr Robert Sanna.  His teenage son, Claudio Sanna, 19,  was murdered on 10 January 2001 at the Rietspruit smallholdings near Vereeniging. He was gunned down by a group of ‘chanting, singing’ black males who arrived just after that year’s full lunar eclipse – and when the youth was sleeping on a couch in the lounge of their rented farm-house. And within six months, on July 31 2001 the land-owner John McNicol also was murdered there. On February 24 2003, six black men were sentenced to a life-time in prison for murdering and robbing McNicol. However, no-one was ever tried for the murder of his young tenant Claudio Sanna two months earlier…Sanna Claudio 19 murdered on John McNicol Rietspruit farm Vereeniging Jan 10 2001


Farm-murder victim Claudio Sanna: born 29 March 1981, murdered 10 January 2001:

The Sanna family had just rented the main farmhouse which belonged to land-owner Mr John McNicol, moving in on 26 November 2000 while Mr McNichol had moved to a cottage 50m away. And only six months after the deadly attack on the Sanna family, on 31 July 2001, Mr McNicol also was murdered by a large gang.

Six black males were found guilty on 24 February 2003 of the murder of Mr John McNichol: given life-time prison sentences by the Vereeniging court were Freddy Nhlope (21) Benneth Zitha (27), Phillimon Mashaba (21), Frans Matsibula (21), Solly Dludlu (22) and Spinola Shambala (21) .

The murder of Claudio Sanna remains unsolved to this day: no-one was ever tried for it…
Mr Sanna wrote that the family had moved into the main farm-house as tenants while Mr McNichol moved to a cottage 50 metres away. They only found out later that Mr McNichol had just been acquitted of attempted murder by a Vereeniging law-court after he had shot and injured a farm-worker in the buttocks a few months earlier after a row.

Mr Sanna writes that he therefore believes that the attack on his innocent family was a revenge-attack, and that his son was murdered by people who believed they were gunning for McNicol instead. The father wrote that he had rushed from the main bedroom to help his son as soon as he heard the chanting and the singing in the living room. He fired off one shot with his 9mm towards the gunman who had shot and injured him in a leg – but then his gun jammed. One of the black gunmen had then pointed a handgun at him and pulled the trigger – but it also jammed. The attackers then fled.  It took the ambulance an hour to get there and in that time, their son Claudio had died. Mr Sanna spent ten days in Union hospital recovering from the leg injury while his wife immediately moved out of the McNichol farm-house.

At 3am, just after a full lunar eclipse… we woke to singing and chanting in the lounge…

His father wrote to Adriana Stuijt on January 21 2012:  “At 3am on 10 Jan 2001, just after a full lunar eclipse,  we woke to singing and chanting in the lounge. Unfortunately,  my son Claudio had fallen asleep on the couch, so he was the first in the line of fire. He was shot once in the chest and died from his wound shortly before the ambulance arrived an hour later. I was also wounded in the attack and fired one shot from my 9mm pistol before it jammed.

“I found myself face to face with one of the gunmen (about 2 metres away), but fortunately for me, although I was already shot in a leg, this gunman’s firearm also jammed and I survived.

“I saw three black men inside the house, but there may have been others outside.  I don’t believe I hit any of the suspects, but my firearm was confiscated by the police for ballistic tests and was never returned to me. 

“My wife and I always suspected that it was a revenge attack by an ex-farm worker who, some months before, had been shot in the buttocks by the farm owner, Mr John McNicol.  In the following courtcase, Mr McNicol was cleared of any charges. With me recovering in Union hospital for ten days and our son murdered, my family moved away from the smallholding on that same day.

“Mr McNicol was killed almost 6 months later. As far as we know, the murderers of my son were never apprehended –  although the police tried to convince us that the six  suspects they had caught for Mr McNicol’s attack were responsible for our attack too.  However they never had any evidence from  our attack that could be used in court.”   

Mr Sanna wrote: with regards  to John McNicol, all I have is an article from Die Beeld which read as follows:

490 j. tronkstraf ná ‘barbaarsheid’: (490 years of prison after barbarity)
2003-02-25 12:38 Elise Tempelhoff –
Beeld. Vereeniging. – Die enigste gepaste vonnis vir dié “barbaarse dade” sou die doodstraf wees, maar ongelukkig maak die regstelsel nie daarvoor voorsiening nie. Só het regter Johan Els in die rondgaande hof gesê toe hy ses mans Maandag saam tot 490 jaar tronkstraf gevonnis het weens onder meer die moord op ‘n 59-jarige man van Kliprivier en poging tot moord op ‘n pa en sy 17-jarige seun in dieselfde omgewing. Els het Freddy Nhlope (21) Benneth Zitha (27), Phillimon Mashaba (21) en Frans Matsibula (21) elk tot lewenslange tronkstraf gevonnis weens onder meer die moord op mnr. John McNicol van die Rietspruit-kleinhoewes naby Kliprivier en poging tot moord op Grant Neal en sy pa (?). Solly Dludlu (22) en Spinola Shambala (21) is elk tot 45 jaar gevonnis weens onder meer roof met verswarende omstandighede.  McNicol is op 31 Julie 2001 doodgeskiet en sy huis beroof. http://www.beeld.com/XArchive/Randse_Beeld/490j-tronkstraf-na-barbaarsheid-20100617 


LUNAR ECLIPSE JAN92001 FRED ESPENAK Notes – Lunar Eclipse, South Africa, January 09 2001: The total lunar eclipse of 2001 Jan 09 was visible from Europe, Africa and Asia. Mid-totality was captured with a 30 second long exposure when the Moon was completely immersed in the Earth’s dark umbral shadow. The Moon is bathed in a deep red light which is actually sunlight refracted by Earth’s atmosphere.picture Total Lunar Eclipse of 2001 Jan 09 (Athens, GREECE) Vixen 90mm fluorite refractor, f/18, 30 seconds on Fuji Superia 800 Photo ©2003 by Fred Espenak http://mreclipse.com/LEphoto/TLE2001/image/TLE2001-14+15w.JPG  http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEplot/LEplot2001/LE2001Jan09T.pdf

About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

One Response to Why was young Claudio Sanna murdered?

  1. Pingback: Robert sanna | Familybateman

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