Saturday, 5 August 2006

Woman collapses in court drama

03/08/2006 00:02 - (SA)

Liela Magnus, Beeld

Pretoria - A woman wept uncontrollably in Pretoria High Court on Wednesday when she looked into the eyes of the man accused of killing her brother-in-law and identified him to the court.

Reneé van Staden pointed with a trembling hand at Michael Lebogo, 18, in the dock before her emotions overcame her and she began weeping uncontrollably.

The court had to adjourn and her husband, Jandré van Staden, looked on helplessly as his wife collapsed.

He could not help her because he had been a witness himself earlier on. His sister Davilene Bakker went to comfort her.

Reneé testified how Lebogo and another man ran into her husband's liquor shop in Valhalla, Pretoria, just before closing time.

"He (Lebogo) went for Jaco (Van Staden, her brother-in-law) at once," she testified.

Jaco was shot in the stomach during the robbery. He died later in Unitas Hospital from loss of blood, among other things.

Lebogo is standing trial with Jeffrey Banda, 32, his sister, Sellinah Lebogo, 37, and Thabo Diphoko, 37, on four charges of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

All four pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Heard five shots as she prayed

Reneé said she saw how Lebogo had come running towards the shop and had watched him.

"I couldn't believe it was happening. One pointed his pistol at us and said we mustn't move," she testified.

She had climbed on top of a chest freezer and begun praying. She heard five shots before the men ran out of the shop.

Jaco's wife, Caren, wiped away tears during her sister-in-law's testimony.

She had been six months pregnant with their third son when her husband was murdered.


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