Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Witness: They just started shooting

2010-05-04 22:35

Pretoria - A shopper was shot in the head when she tried to get out of a Claremont supermarket during a violent robbery in 2007, the North Gauteng High Court heard on Tuesday.

This was the testimony of witness Charl Pretorius, whose father-in-law owns the Dealz Family Store in the Claremont Park shopping centre.

Pretorius identified Jose George Khoza, 27, of Atteridgeville as the man who had shot Wilma Venter in the face on the night of July 25 2007.

Khoza, Zweli Siyabonga Mkhize, 26, and Musa Gumede, 20, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Venter and staff member Petrus Jansen van Rensburg.

They have also denied attempting to murder the supermarket owner's wife, Paulah Oosthuizen, cashier Annetta Koen, Van Rensburg’s fiance Patricia Klaasen, and customer Jacquelene Maritz.

Shop had been robbed before

The three pleaded not guilty to charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances, attempted robbery and the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

Pretorius testified that he was keeping a watchful eye over the supermarket outside that evening as it had been robbed before.

When he saw two suspicious men with cellphones outside, he went in to tell his father-in-law about it.

He had just entered when one of the men - whom he identified as Khoza - pushed him from behind, pointed a pistol at his face and screamed for him to lie down.

He asked Khoza what he was doing, but Khoza again threatened him with the firearm, at which point he kneeled down.

Pretorius said an elderly lady with long black hair tried to get away, but Khoza shot her in the head without saying a word.

"And then the others just started to shoot. Khoza was also shooting. Everyone was screaming. It happened so fast," Pretorius testified.

"I saw how they shot someone else from behind... People who had been shot were lying on the floor. There was an enormous amount of blood on the floor."

Took a good look

He said he found his mother-in-law (Oosthuizen) and Koen, the cashier, sobbing where she was lying on her side.

"My mother-in-law was lying almost under the counter. I only realised afterwards that she had also been shot."

Pretorius said he had a good look at Khoza's face and eyes that night and would not easily forget the face of a man who had shot someone in front of him.

Khoza's defence advocate contended that Pretorius made a mistake in identifying his client.

David Koen, who went to pick up his wife at work that night, testified that he was just leaving when a man pressed a gun against his head and told him to go back.

He and several other people were lying on the ground when they heard shots. After the robbers left, he found out that his wife had been shot in the hand and leg.

The trial continues.



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