More revelations about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the gruesome murders of retired SA Formula1 driver John McNicol at a Vereeniging smallholding and his tenant Claudio Sanna six months earlier…
“At 3am just after a full lunar eclipse, a group of chanting, singing black males had shot dead the sleeping Claudio Sanna, 19, at the Vereeniging smallholding of John McNicol. Six months later, the retired Formula1 driver also was murdered by six armed black men…
January 21 2012 - Two previously unrecorded, deeply mysterious, eleven-year-old farm-murders have just been brought to our notice by Mr Robert Sanna. Mr Sanna wants the SAPS to reopen the murder-investigation of the murder of his teenage son, Claudio Sanna, 19, who 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, a retired race-car driver -- 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 in the same homestead.
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 McNicol livedf in a cottage 50m away. He had been badly injured in a race-track crash and had suffered injuries to his skull. He spent his time restoring old race-cars. The car he h’d had the accident in, was sitting on blocks in the garage, Mr Sanna wrote. 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 (Case Nr Vereeniging 48/2001) 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) .
Mr Sanna said Mr Nicol told him that there had been a break-in at the main house a year or so earlier: “He had then cornered one of the suspects and had shot him in the buttocks, there had been a subsequent trial against him, and Mr McNicol was found not guilty. The suspected criminal was apparently crippled by the wound and was either on crutches or in a wheel chair. The investigating officer was Inspector Andy Andrews whose telephone number at that time was SouthAfrica_27_082 778 9389. Mr Andrews was transferred from the Kliprivier Murder & Robbery squad about a year later: and the Sanna murder-investigation went into the cold case/unsolved case archives.
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.
“The night before, on the evening of 9 January 2001, I also woke up at 2am by the farmdogs barking. I walked through the house, pistol drawn, cocked and ready in the dark, but I saw no-one. The next night we were not so lucky, because this time there were no dogs to alert us, so they must've been drugged, 'cause they were no where to be seen, even after the police arrived after 45 minutes of the attack taking place,” he wrote.
To this day, the family of the murdered youth believe 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.”
McNicol was badly injured after crash with his Formula 1 race car:
“Mr McNicol was a retired racing driver who had won a few trophies etc, he was restoring 1 or 2 vehicles in his garage, attached to his cottage, while we were living there. He also still had the wreck of a car that he had his serious accident in a few years earlier, which caused him to have serious reconstructive surgery on his skull. I think he had one of his racing cars on jacks, he also had lots of pictures & his trophies of his conquests on the walls.
“We sat at his place a few evenings and had drinks on the porch and spoke about some of his achievements. He also mentioned that there had been a break-in at the main house a year or so earlier: He had then cornered one of the suspects and had shot him in the buttocks, there had been a subsequent trial against him, and he was found not guilty. The suspected criminal was apparently crippled by the wound and was either on crutches or in a wheelchair. The investigating officer was Inspector Andy Andrews whose telephone number at that time was SouthAfrica_27_082 778 9389. I know that he was transfered from the Kliprivier Murder & Robbery squad about a year later: and he told us that it would go into the cold case/unsolved case archives. We haven't heard from him since. The case number was 48/2001. We were called in a few weeks after John was shot dead, to see if we could identify any items recovered from the six suspects they had arrested for John's murder. However, nothing was taken from us during our attack, so there was nothing to tie them into Claudio's murder. So we were never called as witnesses for John's case.”
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
John McNicol – Formula 1 Lola T142 racecar driver South Africa: History:
Picture: John McNicol's Lola T142 at Roy Hesketh, Pietermaritzburg Easter 1969 (John Mac is in the blue shirt and brown short behind the car). Copyright picture: David Pearson 2007. We have been unable thus far to find Mr Pearson to obtain publication permission. For which we most profoundly apologise. firstname.lastname@example.org
His Lola T142 - SL142/23 - Invoice date 18 Dec 1968 (Sold to McNichol). John McNicol SA 1969 (Ford Weslake engine: 11 races, 2 wins). Crashed heavily at Rand Spring Tropy 3 Oct 1969. Car then went to Spencer Schultze and rebuilt on new Lola frame (number 49). Schultze SA 1970 (Ford engine: 2 races + 3 DNS). To "D. Angeloni" (Krugersdorp) SA 1971 (Ford engine; raced at Kyalami in June 1971 and entered at the 7 Aug 1971 Kyalami race).