Farmers may have to answer for murder

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IOL mot pic jun9 Gavel . If a hired gun is found guilty of murdering a Howick trouble maker the farmers who allegedly hired him may be in hot water.

Durban - IF ex-security company boss Rudolph Struwig is found guilty on Friday of murdering a Howick “trouble maker” then the white farmers who allegedly hired him may have questions to answer.

That was the word from Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Igna Stretch who was on Monday hearing closing arguments in Struwig’s trial, with judgment expected at the end of the week.

The former head of Mapogo A Mathamaga security company is charged with the murders of two stud farm employees.

He pleaded not guilty to the murder of Simphiwe Ndlovu and the attempted murder of his son, Dennis Ndlovu, at St Ives stud farm near Howick on June 10, 2004, and the murder of Mandla Masango at Rathmor stud farm on October 5, 2004.

The State alleges that Struwig, who owned the security company, procured guards in his employ to carry out the killings on the instructions of the farmers who owned the stud farms. It is alleged that he provided a vehicle and a firearm used in the attack on the Ndlovus, and that he supplied a bakkie to the assailants who killed Masango.

Last year Themba Zandamela, an employee of Struwig’s, testified that his boss told him and three other workers that he needed them to kill someone who was “causing trouble in Howick”.

Lucky Mlangeni, another of Struwig’s former employees, also testified against his former boss. He is serving a life term in prison for the murders.

Struwig testified that both Zandamela and Mlangeni had made threats against him after being fired from their jobs.

He said they had left his employ in “unhappy circumstances” and this was reason for them to falsely implicate him in the murders.

Prosecutor Sandra Senekal submitted in closing arguments on Monday that Zandamela and Mlangeni had no motive to kill Ndlovu or Masango, and that while Struwig might not have pulled the trigger that killed the victims, he was just as liable as the gunmen and actively associated himself with the commission of the crime.

“This conspiracy theory that he (Struwig) is being falsely implicated simply does not hold water,” Senekal said.

Judge Stretch made it clear to Senekal that if she did find Struwig guilty, then she would also have to make findings in relation to the “white farmers” who allegedly hired Struwig to organise the murders.

Senekal agreed that if the Judge did make such findings, the director of public prosecutions would have to take the matter further.

In her closing argument, Struwig’s advocate, Pauline Andrews, submitted that the only evidence against Struwig was that of Zandamela and Mlangeni, who were not credible witnesses, and that the court should consider their testimony with caution. Andrews submitted that the State had failed to prove its case against Struwig and he should be acquitted on all counts.

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