A 35-year-old Benoni man, who claimed he executed four men simply because a stranger had promised to pay him to do so, has lost his appeal against his four life sentences.
Two North Gauteng High Court judges dismissed Tarquin Arends’ appeal, who maintained his life sentences for the July 2013 murders of four Nigerian men and 10-year term for attempting to murder a fifth man were “shockingly inappropriate and out of proportion”.
Arends became a drug runner after falling in with the wrong crowd in an area rife with Nigerian drug lords and prostitution. He admitted guilt to the charges.
According to a social worker, he became fed-up because the Nigerians were taking part of his market. He said in a statement that an unknown Nigerian man had offered to reward him for killing the men who owed the Nigerian money and did not want to pay.
The stranger gave him a firearm and told him where he could find the victims.
Arends watched the men while they were in a tavern. When they left and approached their car, he opened fire, instantly killing four of them and injuring a fifth man.
According to Arends, he returned the firearm to the stranger after the shooting and was promised payment, but he never saw the man again.
He only confessed to the murders a year later, claiming he was haunted by what had happened.
Arends maintained the magistrate who sentenced him had overemphasised the seriousness of the crime.
His advocate argued that he should get a lesser sentence because he was a person of conscience, had pleaded guilty, was remorseful, handed himself over to the police, was a good candidate for rehabilitation and had associated with the wrong crowd and was influenced by drugs.
Acting Judge TAN Makhubele said Arends’ claim that he had acted alone was doubtful and gave a sense he had not taken the court into his confidence.
The fact that he withheld information indicated he was not remorseful, Makhubele said.
The judge said the manner in which Arends had stalked and then killed his prey was the worst kind of murder. Arends was a “calculating, cold-blooded murderer”.