Thursday, 26 June 2008

Teased while paralysed and bleeding

Tania Broughton

June 26 2008 at 09:44AM

First he shot her, the bullet piercing her spine and leaving her paralysed.

Then, while she lay helpless on the floor, he "fingered" the bullet hole before tugging her tracksuit pants down her now numb legs and threatened to rape her before he killed her.

The man who did this to her, she says, was Sifiso Nhlumayo, 20, the son of her family's gardener and someone she had known for about 10 years.

This was the evidence of Johannesburg fine art student Jessica Webster, who testified on Wednesday in the trial of Sifiso Nhlumayo, Fana Nhlumayo and Sibonelo Mpisane.

'I know that I will be disabled for the rest of my life'
The three are accused of attacking her and American attorney David Bovino, her fiance at the time, at their Leisure Bay beach cottage in August 2006.

Webster, 24, came to the Ramsgate High Court on Wednesday on crutches, but she spends most of her time in a wheelchair.

"I nearly died that day from internal bleeding. I spent three months in rehabilitation. I was a paraplegic," she said.

"I didn't just get up one day and walk... it has been a slow process.

"My goal is to walk unaided. But that is up to how hard I am willing to work and if luck is on my side.

"But I know that I will be disabled for the rest of my life. It is not something I will ever fully recover from," she told Judge Chris Nicholson.

Recounting her ordeal on the evening of August 15 2006, she said she had stepped outside the cottage to have a cigarette when she saw figures running out from behind the flower bed and heard shots going off.

She felt a bullet hit her and fell to the ground.

The attackers ran past her into the house where, according to the earlier evidence of Bovino, they shot him in his thigh and chest. He eventually escaped.

Meanwhile, Webster lay outside, unable to move and believing that Bovino was dead.

One man came back outside and crouched down next to her. It was too dark to see his face.

"He fingered where my bullet wound was and then told me to get up. He had a gun in my face. I said I couldn't move."

He then started struggling with her tracksuit pants.

"Luckily for me, I was a dead weight. He only managed to get them to my knees. He then put his gun in between my legs and kept repeating that he was going to f*** me and then kill me."

At that point, she said, a gunshot went off inside the house and the man went back inside.

When things went quiet, she dragged herself into the house and under the dining table. She heard voices saying "police, police" and, when she responded, she heard the attackers laughing and running back into the house.

The one who had indecently assaulted her outside came to where she was lying. He again stuck his gun between her legs and repeated his threats.

With the lights on inside, she now recognised him as Sifiso Nhlumayo, who had regularly come to work with his father, who looked after the garden at the cottage, for the past 10 years.

Nhlumayo left with his companions without carrying out his threats.

"But I have no doubt that one of their primary objects was to rape me," Webster said.

The three accused have all pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, indecent assault, robbery with aggravating circumstances and unlawful possession of a firearm.

They all say they were elsewhere that night.

Under cross-examination by defence attorney Zeera Fareed, for Sifiso Nhlumayo, Webster said she had been "100 percent sure" that it was Nhlumayo on the night of the incident and had reported it to nurses at the Margate Hospital and the police.

"But as I sit here today, I cannot be 100 percent sure," she said.

The case is continuing.


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