March 04 2010 at 10:46PM
By Bronwyn Gerretsen
Not only did 79-year-old Sheila Hesk's murderer stab her repeatedly and beat her until her bloodied and heavily bruised body lay lifeless on her bedroom floor, but he then wrapped her up in a duvet, piled furniture on top of her and covered her with her mattress.
Her protruding feet, tied at the ankles, were all that the general manager of the Sandown Retirement Village, in Pinetown, could see of her when he went to her ransacked house in August last year. Hesk lived alone in her one-bedroom unit.
These were among the details heard in the Durban High Court this week, where Siphamandla Mhleli Nxele, 22, is on trial for Hesk's murder.
He is also facing charges of housebreaking with intent to rob, and robbery with aggravating circumstances. Nxele is alleged to have stolen two cellphones, an alarm clock radio, three gold rings and a wristwatch from Hesk's unit.
Post mortem results reveal that Hesk died from a "blunt force head injury".
She had been assaulted and stabbed several times. Her wrists were bound behind her and her ankles were also tied. An attempt had also been made to strangle her.
Nxele's fingerprints were found on the buckled burglar guards of her unit. However, he claims that the police made him touch the burglar guards to transfer his prints.
Testifying before Judge Esther Steyn, Nxele said he had been walking to work at about 5.30am on August 26 when four policemen arrested him and took him to Hesk's home. He said they showed him the window where they said he had broken in, and made him touch the burglar guards.
However, under examination by the prosecutor, advocate Bheki Manyathi, Michael Roberts, the manager of the village, testified that CCTV footage showed that the only vehicles to enter the complex at that time had been the bread and newspaper delivery vehicles. He said he had found Hesk's body at about 9am, after being alerted to the broken burglar guards and open back door by Hesk's friend and neighbour. Only then had he called the police.
According to the state, Nxele was arrested only on September 10.
Closing arguments will be made on Friday.
This breaking news article was provided exclusively to www.iol.co.za by the news desk at our sister publication, The Mercury.