Spectators in Cape Town Supreme Court shuddered as they listened to the story of how schoolgirl Jermaine Abrahams was murdered by two burglars.

Sandra Smith, 22, and her boy friend, Yassiem Harris, 19, broke into the Abrahams’ home on September 1st, 1986, to steal because they didn’t have enough money to pay their rent. They both knew Jermaine, the only occupant of the house at the time, and demanded to know where her mother’s jewellery was kept. But Jermaine refused to say.

Harris told the court: “I began throttling her with a dishcloth but she still refused to talk.” He said she “wriggled for a few seconds, made some gurgling sounds, and then lay still.”

When she regained consciousness, “there were tears coming from her eyes. I went on my knees and told her she mustn’t worry. But Sandra became angry. She picked up the knife and said: ‘Stab her dead!’

“I started stabbing Jermaine continuously in the neck. I saw blood coming out of her neck. I looked at Sandra and she was smiling. Jermaine was lying on the floor on her stomach and she wriggled on to her back, but I still went on stabbing her.”

She wriggled free, took a few steps, and collapsed. Harris carried her into her mother’s bedroom and put her on the bed. Jermaine, who had now been stabbed 25 times, then told them where the valuables were, saying: “Yassiem, I don’t want to die now.”

Harris said: “I realised that she would not die from the stab wounds so I closed my eyes and slit her throat.”

Sandra Smith told the court: “Jermaine kept pleading with us to let her live, saying she didn’t want to die. After she showed us where the jewellery was she was getting weak. We put her on the bed. She became cold and asked for water. We did not give her any. She began to bleed more and then died. Then Mr. Harris closed his eyes and slit her throat.”

Harris, she added, killed the schoolgirl so that she would not identify them, but afterwards “he started to feel sorry for her.” She added that he pushed his finger into the victim’s vagina “to see if she moved.”

During an adjournment tears streamed down Sandra Smith’s cheeks as she was led in handcuffs to a police car. Turning to her mother standing nearby, she pleaded: “Mummy, get me out of here!”

Sandra Smith, the mother of three children, one of whom was fathered by Harris, screamed: “Mummy! No, no!” when she was sentenced to death. Wailing and struggling, she was dragged down the stairs to the cells. Yassiem Harris received the same sentence, remaining apparently unmoved.

They were both executed on the same day, Friday, June 2nd, 1989, at Pretoria Central Prison. Sandra Smith was the last woman to he hanged in South Africa.

Six years later the death penalty there was abolished.