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Flower box murder: Husband pleads guilty as he cant live with his conscience

Nadine Bakkes and her husband Phillip in the Gqeberha High Court


A Gqeberha man accused of murdering his cousin before hiding his body underneath a cement flower box has been handed a ten-year jail sentence after entering a plea agreement with the state.

It has been a decade since the decomposed body of businessman Wynand Hibbers was found still fully clothed and wrapped in a blanket, on a property in Blue Water Bay.

Phillip Bakkes (47) and his cousin Nadine, who is also his wife, were accused of killing Hibbers after an argument over a business deal had spiralled out of control.

On Wednesday, Bakkes and his wife appeared in the Gqeberha High Court where his plea was read out.

All charges against his wife were withdrawn after Bakkes accepted all the blame.

He told the court he wanted to plead guilty as he could no longer live with his conscience and wanted the family to gain closure by not having to attend a protracted trial where they would have to listen to evidence.

The court heard how Bakkes shot Hibbers when he learnt that his cousin was making another business deal which he was not a part of.

Bakkes told the court when he heard he was being sidelined in the business he went to the house they all shared in Bluewater Bay to confront his cousin.

He said when the argument became heated it was Hibbers who lost his temper and fetched a shotgun from his cupboard.

In his plea, Bakkes said a struggle ensued that ended on the balcony where Hibbers accidentally fell onto a cement surface.

He said in a panic, Hibbers tried to grab the gun but by then it was in his possession and he fired the shot.

Bakkes managed to keep the murder and his involvement under wraps as it took four years before the body was discovered when construction work was being done on the property.

Bakkes described the deceased as someone with a short fuse and temper who had on a previous occasion, threatened to throw him off the Van Stadens Bridge outside Gqeberha during an argument.

Hibbers' loved ones, however, shared a different view of the deceased and could not recall him having a temper or being short-fused.

His family described him as a kind-hearted man who went out of his way to assist family members in need.

The deceased's brother, also named Phillip, spoke to the media after Wednesday's court proceedings where he expressed relief that the case was now over.

He said they could now move on with their lives, even though he did not accept Bakkes' version of events.

Phillip Hibbers says his brother wasn't in good health at the time of the incident.

He told the media that his brother didn't own a weapon at the time and that his old gun was in Mpumalanga.

The firearm charges in this matter were withdrawn against the accused.

Phillip's wife Sonja said the incident broke the family apart.

"We are not in contact with any of the family here because they chose to believe Bakkes," she added.

Hibbers' long-time best friend Antoinette Gibson felt that Nadine was as guilty as Bakkes.

In the plea agreement, the court heard that the Bakkes couple has a five-year-old daughter who was diagnosed with cancer, but is now in remission.

Bakkes was sentenced to 15 years in prison, suspended for five years.

He was led down to the holding cells shortly after court proceedings concluded.

His wife was visibly emotional but did not make use of the opportunity to hug her husband for the last time.

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