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Johannesburg - One of the men accused of the murder of Barney van Heerden has denied his co-accused’s claim that he was responsible for the stranglehold that contributed to his death.
Van Heerden was found strangled in his home in September 2011 after having allegedly invited in the three men who would rob and then murder him.
Bheki Maseko and Mthokozisi Ndlovu are currently on trial for the killing, and a third man, Maxwell Nyathi, has pleaded guilty to the crime and testified against them.
According to Nyathi, Maseko planned the sexual encounter and robbery, while Ndlovu choked Van Heerden.
All three then wrapped Van Heerden’s head in the duct tape, which led to his suffocation.
Ndlovu was called to the stand on Wednesday at the Palm Ridge High Court, where he gave his version of the night Van Heerden was murdered.
The 24-year-old told the court that all three accused had had sexual encounters with Van Heerden previously, and that the trio were invited to his residence in Orange Grove. He described Van Heerden as a friend.
They arrived at Van Heerden’s house after walking from their shared flat in Berea, and were welcomed into the home, where they began drinking and smoking the dagga they had bought along the way.
Eventually, Van Heerden, Ndlovu said, offered the three men a shower or bath, which they agreed to.
After cleaning up, the four men remained in Van Heerden’s bedroom, and Maseko and Van Heerden came to an agreement that Nyathi would prostitute himself for R800.
Van Heerden then took out a bottle with some liquid which the men sniffed. During this part of the testimony, Ndlovu referred to Van Heerden as “the white man”, which seemed to annoy presiding Judge George Maluleke.
“Call him Barney - he was your friend, wasn’t he?”
In graphic detail, Ndlovu described how Van Heerden and Nyathi began having sex. He said he also participated and Maseko watched.
But while Nyathi testified earlier this week that after sex the men had overpowered Van Heerden before robbing and murdering him, Ndlovu insisted that all three accused left the house together, with no attack taking place.
He told the court he did not understand why Nyathi would make up lies about the killing, especially considering they had been friends for years.
But the State prosecutor, advocate Mahlubi Ntlakaza, disputed Ndlovu’s testimony, as a previous witness’s testimony revealed that Ndlovu had already admitted to knowing about the murder when he was arrested last year.
Judge Maluleke also questioned this fact, saying it was odd that Ndlovu had not told his lawyer, Leonard Cindi, to point out that the previous witness was lying.
However, Ndlovu remained adamant that he knew nothing of the murder or robbery.
The trial continues on Thursday.