Thursday, 21 October 2004

Stab victim writes matric exam in hospital

Gill Gifford

October 21 2004 at 08:05AM

A teenage girl who fought off her mother's attacker with her bare hands and was stabbed in the process has written her first matric exam from her hospital bed.

Krystal Theron, 18, of Dersley Park in Springs, was pulling out of the driveway at her home on Monday night while her mother Vivianne was closing the gate.

They noticed a smartly dressed young man walking across the veld towards them.

"My mom warned me to be careful of the pedestrian," learner driver Krystal said.

The man approached her mother and asked for a job.

Theron said she had no work to offer him. He then lunged at her and grabbed for her handbag, which she threw over the wall as he pulled out a knife.

Krystal, who hadn't seen the knife, jumped out of the car and threw her shoes at the man.

"That obviously did nothing, so I started screaming and jumped on him, punching him anywhere I could reach," she said.

"He turned around and it felt like he punched me back, but he'd actually stabbed me. I thought he'd just hit me until I saw the blood."

'I'm glad it's over, and I think I did okay' Krystal's father, hearing the commotion, ran to help but could not unlock the security gate. He fired a shot into the air, which prompted the attacker to run off.

Theron bundled her injured daughter into the car and drove to their doctor, who told her she needed to be hospitalised immediately as the blade had punctured a lung.

Reluctant to wait for an ambulance, Theron took Krystal - a provincial hockey and tennis player and top athlete - to the Far East Rand Hospital, where they spent more than an hour waiting for medical help.

"There were people all over, lying on the floor and everything. I was pressing on my wound because it was bubbling, and nobody came to help us," recalled Krystal.

"It felt like I had knives in my back and it was really scary because I didn't know if I was okay.

A neighbour, Mel Boucher, came to help and insisted they go to a private hospital, even though Theron had been told that she would have to pay R50 000 upfront before Krystal could be admitted.

"Mel took over and she negotiated things for us. Eventually we got Krystal to the N17 private hospital and they were very good to us," Theron said.

Krystal had a drain put into her back to remove the air pockets which had been filling her injured lung, causing it to collapse. She was admitted to the surgical ward and heavily sedated.

Her English teacher arrived that afternoon to give her some last-minute coaching for her exam, but the drugged teenager was too drowsy to concentrate.

Her school sent over a video recorder so that she could spend Tuesday night watching Macbeth on video - her final preparation for her English literature finals.

On Wednesday morning Krystal was not given any painkillers. An invigilator was sent to sit with her and she wrote her three-hour exam at a desk set up in her ward.

"I'm glad it's over, and I think I did okay," she said afterwards.

She was due to write her economics final paper on Thursday, again in hospital.

Krystal is hoping to be discharged soon and will write another four exams next week.

This article was originally published on page 3 of The Star on October 21, 2004


Monday, 18 October 2004

Benoni family trial: accused admits to rape

Baldwin Ndaba

October 16 2004 at 01:53PM

A Johannesburg man admitted he raped a 53-year-old woman and was part of a gang which dumped her body and those of her three family members in the veld.

"I raped Georgina van der Merwe after hearing Clement Makua was busy raping her daughter-in-law in another bedroom."

Themba Radebe was testifying in the Secunda High Court about the day they held four family members hostage in their house in Benoni on February 8 this year.

Radebe, 44, of KwaThema, Springs, stands accused along with Vincent Khubeka, 22, Lucky Peter Mbalati, 20, of Hillbrow and Clement Boy-Boy Makua, 24, on two counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances, four of attempted murder, four of rape, four of abduction, four of murder, two counts of theft and two counts of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

The charges following the abduction of Frans van der Merwe, 57, his wife Georgina, 53, their son Darryl, 31, and his 24-year-old wife Melissa from their homes in Benoni on February 8 this year. Their bodies were found near Loskop Dam Resort in Mpumalanga - 200km away - a day later.

On Friday, Radebe supported a confession he made to a Benoni magistrate, where he admitted to raping Georgina and transporting all four victims to Loskop Dam Resort where they were killed execution style. Radebe said they held their victims hostage for 12 hours in Darryl's house.

Giving the rape and murder details, Radebe said: "We were at that house on Saturday after hearing from Vincent (Khubeka) that his boss (Darryl) was selling a car. Clement and Vincent talked to Darryl and promised to purchase the car the next day.

"We returned to the house the next day and while Darryl showed us a boxing brochure, Clement pulled out a gun and pointed it at Darryl. At that time, Vincent was holding his wife hostage with a screw-driver. Vincent then ordered me to follow Clement's instructions, failing which I would also die," Radebe said.

He said Makua demanded cash from Darryl who told him the location of his safes in the bedroom. Radebe said they found R3 500 cash in one safe and a pistol and a rifle in another. He said his gang was not happy with the cash and demanded Darryl summon his parents to his house.

On their arrival, the pair was also held hostage. The court also heard how they were fed coffee poisoned with Rattex or muti "to sleep quickly".

"While I was guarding Darryl and his parents with their hands bound with ties Vincent came to me and said Clement was busy raping Darryl's wife.

"Minutes later, Lucky (Mbalati) came and pointed the rifle at me and said I should rape Darryl's mother. He ordered her out of the room and told me to follow her. He then ordered me to rape her or face the consequences. I then raped her," Radebe said.

He only admitted to the rape and said Makua and Mbalati shot and killed all four victims near Loskop Dam Resort.

DNA results linked Radebe to rape.

However, Makua and Mbalati disputed the major part of his confession.

Khubeka pleaded guilty on charges of robbery and theft, while Makua and Mbalati claimed an alibi in spite of the fact that Judge Nico Coetzee admitted all evidence against them after a trial within a trial on Friday after Radebe, Mbalati and Makua alleged that police had tortured them. Judgment is expected on Monday.

This article was originally published on page 9 of The Star on October 16, 2004

Source: IOL

Wednesday, 13 October 2004

Unhappy birthday in family murder 'nightmare'

October 12 2004 at 10:54AM

By Shoneez Bulbulia

Sonia van der Merwe of Benoni will spend her 33rd birthday on Tuesday listening to evidence in the Secunda High Court trial of four men accused of murdering her parents, brother and sister-in-law.

"This is definitely not a happy birthday for me," Van der Merwe said.

Her father Frans van der Merwe, his wife Gina, their son Daryl and his wife Melissa were found dead near Loskop Dam in Mpumalanga on February 9. All had been shot.

Themba Luke Radebe, Lucky Peter Mbalati, Clement Bay-Bay Makua and Vincent Mokhosonke Khubeka face 22 charges, including murder, attempted murder, rape, theft and abduction relating to their deaths.

Dressed in a baby blue suit the petite blonde said that giving testimony on Monday had been exhausting.

"This whole thing just does not feel real. It is all a nightmare. After this I have to find a way to carry on. The only thing I have had to do with courts was when I watched Ally MacBeal, but now I am actually here."

She said that on Monday Khubeka's mother Beauty had approached her and apologised for what her son had allegedly done.

"She said she could not believe it. It was very brave and nice of her," Van der Merwe said.

Jackie Clarkson, mother of Melissa said: "I was not going to come today. I could not face it. But I have received lots of support. And I decided to come and support Sonia because it was her birthday."

On Monday Van der Merwe told the court that she discovered that something was amiss when she went to her parents' house at Farrarmere, Benoni, on the East Rand after her father and Melissa did not turn up for work on February 9.

She found the house in disarray and her father's Volkswagen Jetta and Ford Bantam bakkie missing. Her brother Daryl and his wife Melissa's house nearby was also in disarray, and Melissa's Opel Corsa missing. Police later recovered the bloodstained Jetta and the bakkie in Alexandra, Johannesburg. The Corsa was found near the crime scene in Mpumalanga.

She said she had known Khubeka since he was a toddler. He had been employed in the family's business.

"Vincent's father used to work for my father for over 20 years. I even know his uncle," she told the court.

The accused arrived on Tuesday wearing smart casual clothes and new sneakers, with one carrying a Bible in his hand.

Pretoria-based advocated Fanus Maritz was appointed by the Legal Aid board to represent three of the accused while the parents of the fourth, Mbalati, agreed to pay for a private lawyer.

Judge Nico Coetzee is presiding.

Khubeka has pleaded guilty to two charges of robbery and one of theft, and the other three have pleaded not guilty to all 22 charges. - Sapa

Source: IOL

Tuesday, 12 October 2004

Durban mom's 18 hours of terror

Anil Singh

October 11 2004 at 11:51AM

It's a nightmare every woman dreads - being stopped at gunpoint and raped.

A 27-year-old Hillcrest mother was terrorised for more than 18 hours and held captive and gang raped after she and her three-year-old son were hijacked at the weekend.

But it took detectives from the Durban Serious Violent Crime Unit and Operation Greed a couple of hours to arrest the alleged rapists.

The woman and her son were returning to their smallholding after shopping in Pinetown on Saturday when her terrifying ordeal started.

The slightly built mother was no match for her attackers.

She was bundled into the boot of her car and told that her son would be harmed if she screamed or attracted attention.

The woman told detectives that she was driving towards her farm at about 11.30am when she saw a man flagging her down, but she did not stop.

The next moment a gunman jumped out from the bushes and pointed a gun at her head.

The gunman was then joined by another man who ordered the woman into the boot of of car. They told her son to remain in the back seat and not to cry otherwise they would kill his mother.

The attackers then drove off in the car for several hours and even stopped at a garage to fill up with petrol.

The woman told police that through a gap in the boot she could see that they had stopped on the forecourt of a service station.

The men also withdrew money from the woman's cash card after threatening to kill her child if she did not give them the pin number.

The woman was taken to an abandoned shack in the Molweni area, were she was raped repeatedly. She was then tied up.

The two men then took her son with them and went on a joyride in the Pinetown area. It is believed that just before midnight the men withdrew more money from the woman's account.

The attackers returned and again raped the woman.At about 4.30am on Sunday they gave the woman her car keys and told her that she was free to go.

The terrified mother grabbed her son and then drove off as fast as she could.

She stopped at the first garage she came to and phoned her family and told them what had happened.

The family who had been looking for the mother and child raced to her side.

On Sunday the woman was taken to a district surgeon at Addington Hospital and later given anti-retroviral medication.

While she has to deal with the traumatic situation of having been raped, she also has the agonising wait to see if she has been infected with HIV and Aids and also the possibility of pregnancy.

On Sunday the Durban Serious Violent Crimes Unit and Operation Greed - a rapid response crime fighting unit - took over the investigations.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Danelia Veldhuizen said within hours of the rape being reported detectives made a breakthrough in the case.

A team of detectives, led by Captain Muzi Sibiya and Inspector Sagie Govender, arrested a 24-year-old man in the Hillcrest area late on Sunday afternoon.

The detectives worked throughout the day and just before 10pm arrested a second man at a house in Mariannhill.

They also took possession of a gun and a bank card belonging to the rape victim.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Daily News on October 11, 2004


Monday, 11 October 2004

Nobel winner: Aids a WMD

09/10/2004 16:02 - (SA)

Nairobi - Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, on Saturday reiterated her claim that the AIDS virus was a deliberately created biological agent.

"Some say that Aids came from the monkeys, and I doubt that because we have been living with monkeys (since) time immemorial, others say it was a curse from God, but I say it cannot be that.

"Us black people are dying more than any other people in this planet," Maathai told a press conference in Nairobi a day after winning the prize for her work in human rights and reversing deforestation across Africa.

"It's true that there are some people who create agents to wipe out other people. If there were no such people, we could have not have invaded Iraq," she said.

"We invaded Iraq because we believed that Saddam Hussein had made, or was in the process of creating agents of biological warfare," said Maathai.

"In fact it (the HIV virus) is created by a scientist for biological warfare," she added.

"Why has there been so much secrecy about Aids? When you ask where did the virus come from, it raises a lot of flags. That makes me suspicious," Maathai added.

Africa accounts for 25 million out of the estimated 38 million across the world infected with HIV, and the vast majority of infected Africans are women, according to UNAids estimates.

The United States on Friday congratulated Maathai on winning the Nobel Peace Prize, but tempered its praise over her claims about AIDS.

"She said (HIV/Aids) was invented as a bioweapon in some laboratory in the West," a senior state department official said. "We don't agree with that."

The official pointed to a report of those comments published in August in Kenya's daily Standard newspaper, in which Maathai was quoted as saying that HIV/Aids was created by scientists for the purpose of mass extermination.

Edited by Tisha Steyn


Zimbabwe family now belongs here

EDITORIAL: Zimbabwe family now belongs here

16.09.2004 - Paul Taggart

If ever there was a need for Immigration Minister Paul Swain to throw the rule book out the window and show some compassion it is with the Oosthuizen family.

The loss of Leon Oosthuizen in a Pakowhai Road crash on Monday was a heart-breaking tragedy for his wife Margie, and their children Lendl, 17, Jessica, 14, Hannah, 11 and Byron, 8.

Yet even while they attempt to deal with their grief, another cloud hangs over their heads - doubt over whether they will be able to remain in New Zealand after the death of their husband and father.

The family fled from Zimbabwe, where they had a successful business, to escape the vicious and corrupt regime of President Robert Mugabe. They had to pay bribes to smuggle their tractors to South Africa just to enable them to leave with a little money.

They were refugees in everything but name. Those who are official refugees can happily opt for a life of crime or on a benefit in this country knowing they cannot be sent home to the land whence they came.

But even at a time of enormous grief there is no such security for the Oosthuizens.

They are in New Zealand thanks to a business visa after they bought the Redskins Nursery between Clive and Hastings. But everything is now up in the air. The visa expired with the death of Mr Oosthuizen.

The family is hard-working and loving and involved in the community. Mrs Oosthuizen is, among other things, a PTA member of both St Patrick's School and Sacred Heart College. Their business also employs two New Zealanders.

It is possible for Mrs Oosthuizen to apply to become the family's principal applicant and continue to run the business, but if she cannot manage to do, or the application is rejected, what then?

The Government's response, so far, is starkly different to what it was in the case of Tuvaluan wife-beater Senee Niusila. Niusila came to New Zealand in 1998 on a three-month visitor's visa, became an overstayer and has now been allowed to remain as he requires State-funded kidney dialysis.

That is despite committing offences which include punching his wife in the face while she was breastfeeding their 18-day-old son.

How fair would it be if the Immigration Service were to send the bereaved Oosthuizen family back to certain poverty and misery in Zimbabwe, while Niusila is allowed to remain in New Zealand, courtesy of the taxpayer, six years after his permit ran out?

Immigration Minister Paul Swain has chosen "not to get involved" with the Oosthuizens. Sometimes it is rather difficult to understand politicians.

©Copyright 2000 NZ Herald


Saturday, 9 October 2004

South Africans are world champions in crime

Fana Peete

October 06 2004 at 08:56AM

"Crime has become our national sport, and if we could commit ourselves to sport like we do to crime, we would become world champions."

This was the parting shot of Judge Theo Grobbelaar, 73, during his last appearance in the Pretoria High Court, as he reflected on his 15 years on the Bench.

Sentencing the Marble Hall cash-in-transit accused to six life terms in jail each and a total 137 years imprisonment, Grobbelaar said it would appear that the current laws were not forcing criminals to think twice before committing a crime.

It had become difficult for South Africans to enjoy the freedom that came with democracy as a result of criminals who forced them to stay behind high walls and electrical fences in fear of murderers and rapists who had no regard for the law.

"In the past people were afraid to walk freely with their families at night."

"Today they are even afraid to travel in their vehicles during daytime. Even churches are no longer safe. I doubt if these things are happening in other countries," said Grobbelaar.

The public were "sick and tired" of criminals, and he agreed with them.

"If sentences for serious crimes are lenient, the administration of justice will be brought into disrepute and the victims may take the law into their hands. We will not allow that to happen," he said.

"This is my last sentence in this court and I feel compelled that after my life of service as a judge, I must talk about my observation: crime has become our national sport."

"The illegal possession of firearms and ammunition has grown out of proportion and the community feels that the courts are not doing enough to deal with the criminals. They think the courts are encouraging criminals to do as they please and think they themselves must sort them out by taking the law into their hands."

Grobbelaar said an appropriate sentence for each accused was life imprisonment for the six murders (individually) and 10 years for the four attempted murders.

The sentence covered crimes ranging from robbery with aggravating circumstances (including for vehicles and firearms) to the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. Those who had licensed firearms were declared unfit to possess them.

The 15 men - Bongani Mabena, 29, Paul Mokwape 36, Absalon Molefe, 38, Oupa Chpane Paahla 34, Jackson Mokganedi, 41, Solomon Makubela, 39, Selale Hendrik Maloma, 45, Rudolph Pehlane Ratale, 43, Joseph Mpho Moepi, 42, Andries Meselane Madubanya, 39, Andrew Moropeng Madubanya, 39, Ignatius Vishinsky Kwakwa, 58, Abel Sibeko, 74, Thamsanqa, Cosmos Maifadi, 43 and Oupa William Ndlovu, 39 - were earlier found guilty on six counts of murder, four of attempted murder, four of robbery with aggravating circumstances and two of theft of motor vehicles.

The charges arose from the R8,5-million robbery on the Pretoria-Marble Hall road in December 1997 when the accused attacked SBV cash-in-transit vehicles.

This article was originally published on page 2 of Pretoria News on October 06, 2004

Source: IOL

Farmer's wife shoots back at intruders

Aziz Hartley

October 08 2004 at 10:07AM

An elderly farmer's wife in Somerset West in the Western Cape has single-handedly fought off six armed robbers under fire.

The men surprised the couple while they were watching television, wounded the farmer and shot at his wife, but she fired back, putting them to flight.

The woman, 65, was treated for shock and discharged, but her husband, 68, remained in hospital, Somerset West police spokesperson Anneke van der Vywer said on Thursday night.

The farmer was shot in the thigh and stomach To protect the couple, they and the hospital would not be named as no one had been arrested yet, she said.

"The farmer and his wife were sitting in their TV room on Wednesday night when six men appeared at the window and fired two shots," Helderberg police superintendent Mike Reitz said.

"The woman ran to the upstairs bedroom and locked the door. The intruders meanwhile gained access to the house and robbed the injured farmer of money he had in his wallet.

"The men went upstairs and fired several shots through the door. They fled when the farmer's wife returned fire from inside."

The couple called the police. It is not known how much money was taken.

The police's serious and violent crime unit has appealed for information to help them find the attackers.

Anyone with information should call investigating officer Ninette van der Merwe at 021 935 9600 or 082 780 5747. Calls may also be made in confidence to CrimeStop, 08600 10111.

Source: IOL