May 13 2009 at 01:17PM
By Sherlissa Peters
The two men accused of the murder of Cliffdale husband and father Marc Pohlman have been found guilty in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
Judge Herbert Msimang convicted Msiko Malinga, 27, and Felakuphi Zondi, 22, on Tuesday of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
Malinga was found guilty of further charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
The men pleaded not guilty, in the face of overwhelming evidence against them which included ballistic evidence that matched spent cartridge casings at the scene of the murder with the firearm found in Malinga's possession on his arrest, as well as fingerprint evidence that linked the men to the crime scene.
Msimang said: "The evidence submitted by both accused men is clearly false beyond all reasonable doubt. There can be no question as to the guilt of the accused."
He said they were two of the worst witnesses he had ever had the misfortune to come across.
In mitigation of sentence, defence counsel for Malinga and Zondi conceded that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances present to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment on the murder charge.
Msimang agreed with this submission, adding that the duo had showed no mercy to the Pohlman family.
"They could have simply taken what they wanted and left the family intact. However, they decided to attack this young family and leave them without a husband and father," he said.
Prosecutor Dalene Barnard labelled the murder a "senseless" killing.
"The family were vulnerable targets that posed no threat to their assailants."
Barnard said it was shocking that in the face of incriminating evidence against them, the men had still pleaded not guilty and had shown no remorse for their actions.
The matter was adjourned to Friday to allow for the defence and prosecution to research a certain case law that might have an impact on sentencing.
Pohlman, 31, was shot dead on his smallholding on February 22, 2008.
He was shot twice in the chest. His killers got away with three cellphones, cash and a bottle of brandy.
Pohlman is survived by his wife, Caroline, and two children.
In her testimony, his wife said that on the day of the attack she had been sitting on the veranda at about 7pm and her husband had been sanding the stairs with a machine.
She said their children, aged three and four, were with them.
"We noticed two men enter our front gate and approach us. It initially looked as though they were having an argument and were no danger to us, but then we saw that one of the men had a gun," she said.
She said her husband had tried to calm the situation before telling her to get out with the children.
"I turned to grab my kids and that's when I heard the first gunshot. I rushed the children into the bathroom and because it does not have a lock I physically barricaded the door with my body."
Pohlman said the assailant had then tried to break down the bathroom door. That was when she had heard the second gunshot.
"He kicked and pushed and eventually got his head and arm around the door. He slapped me and managed to get in and then dragged me back to the veranda."
She said the man had demanded cellphones from her.
"At that point the gunman came toward us and told his accomplice that they needed to go. My assailant let go of me. That's when I ran back to the bathroom to my children and barricaded us in again."
Several minutes had passed before she opened the door to shout to her husband.
"I got no response. I came out of the bathroom and did a quick check of the house to make sure the attackers were gone. I took my children and put them into the car. That's when I saw my husband lying close to the fence."
This article was originally published on page 3 of Daily News on May 13, 2009