27/10/2008 21:10 - (SA)
Nelspruit - A pensioner gently patted her former gardener on the shoulder when he appeared in court for a traumatic attack on her and her husband.
Elspeth Jones, 60, had just testified in the Nelspruit Regional Court that her gardener had been a loyal employee for six months until the day she and her husband were attacked at their house in Claremont.
"He had been a good boy and did his work perfectly," she said.
The suspects are Joseph Nkambule, 20, the couple's gardener Mandla Sithole, 19, and Dennis Nkosi, 21, of Nelspruit.
They have pleaded not guilty to charges of armed robbery, and possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition.
The couple were attacked after arriving home from doing month-end shopping on July 30.
Alex Jones, 66, was beaten with a pick-handle on his hands and feet, breaking his bones. Four bags of cement weighing 200kg were also placed on top of him make sure he couldn't move.
"My husband nearly died. Only God's grace saved us," testified his wife.
Mr Jones spent 16 days in intensive care at Johannesburg Hospital while receiving treatment for his injured lungs and kidneys.
They have since moved to Johannesburg.
The couple was robbed of jewellery, cellphones, bank cards two firearms and R520 for the gardener's transport were stolen.
When Mrs Jones asked the suspects to explain their actions, one of them said they were supporting the xenophobic attacks that were sweeping the country at the time.
The couple were taken inside the house, hog-tied, with their hands and feet tied together, and locked in their toilet.
Mrs Jones managed to free herself and untie her husband.
She kicked open the toilet door and alerted the security company.
The accused were arrested on the same day. All the stolen items, except the debit cards and some cash, were retrieved.
The accused have been given R1 500 bail. Only Nkosi has been able to pay bail. The other two suspects are being kept in custody.
The trial will continue on November 10.
- African Eye