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Nelspruit - A young, self-confessed Mpumalanga robber recounted on Tuesday how a 63-year-old woman got him involved in her younger brother’s murder.
A Sapa correspondent reported that Nhlanhla Percy Dube, 23, was testifying in the trial of Bellinah Maluka, 63, Louis Mlungisi Given Msibi, 26, and Surprise Sibusiso Nzima, 25, in the Nelspruit Circuit of the High Court in Pretoria.
The three, from Phathwa Trust near White River, are accused of robbing Julia Dories Mashabane and killing her husband Richard Philip Manikela, 53, who was gunned down at his home in Phathwa Trust on the morning of July 22, 2011.
They have all pleaded not guilty to murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and possession of unlawful firearms and ammunition.
Dube, the fourth suspect in the matter, has turned State witness after confessing to the crime and receiving a 20-year prison term.
“I know Gogo Bellinah as someone who was selling dagga in Phathwa Trust. On June 28, 2011, when I was a Grade 12 pupil at Phathwa Secondary School, she sent someone to invite me to her house,” Dube testified.
Maluka told him her brother, a herbalist who lived near her house, was keeping R3 million in his house on behalf of some men who had committed an armed robbery.
“She asked me if I needed money and whether I had courage. She said her brother was playing around with the money, which he used to buy cars while he had no (driver’s) licence and that he gave the cars to other people to drive them, not his own children.”
Dube said after thinking for a week, he consulted Msibi, whom he knew through a friend. After inviting Msibi to Maluka's house, he came along with five other men in a red Uno.
He said Maluka gave them a plan for them to rob Manikela.
“She requested that we only rob him of the money, but not take his life. We all agreed on that.”
Dube testified that on July 21, only Msibi, Nzima, and a third man known as Steven, arrived at Maluka's house to plan the robbery.
“At Maluka's house, the three men showed her a hand gun, cables and a masking tape... She warned us he had a shotgun and also gave us information that he usually woke up at 4am and would drive somewhere.”
Dube testified that around 4am on July 22 Nzima, who had the gun, waited outside the victim's house to discuss a way forward.
“Msibi asked not to enter first as the deceased knew him. He said he used to come to (Manikela) for muti when he wanted to commit crimes. We then heard the accused start his vehicle. When he came to open the gate, Nzima and Steven attacked him, tied him up and covered his mouth with the masking tape,” said Dube.
“I walked past them and saw the deceased lying face down. His hands were tied on his back and his legs were also tied. I entered the house and headed straight to the bedroom to search. Msibi entered other rooms also searching for the money.”
Two safes and a firearm were found in a bedroom.
He testified that Nzima then went to the kitchen and shot Manikela.
“We were all shocked after he shot him. Mashabane then came and closed his eyes, saying he was dead. As we were all looking at the dead man, Mashabane escaped,” said Dube.
“We all panicked, climbed in the couple's Ford Sapphire and escaped.”