Harrismith - The man who is accused of killing a Durban couple and assaulting their son and daughter-in-law at Tweevley Guest Farm at the weekend appeared in the Harrismith Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
With a fresh-looking scar on his forehead, Pharaoh Mhone, a 32-year-old Malawian national, walked into the courtroom, his eyes shying away from the packed public gallery.
He faces two charges of murder, two of attempted murder, plus housebreaking, theft and kidnapping charges.
Mhone was informed by magistrate Hannes Breyl of his rights to legal representation.
He told the court he would like legal aid representation, but later changed his mind and said he was going to find his own lawyer.
When asked if he understood English, he said he did, but asked for a Chichewa interpreter.
After the lunch adjournment, Breyl told Mhone they were having difficulty finding an interpreter and asked him if there was any other language he could speak.
With a broad smile, he softly replied: “Maybe Zulu“. However, when he was asked questions in Zulu, it was clear that he was not fluent in the language and had difficulty following proceedings. Breyl said the court would proceed with finding him an interpreter.
After the court adjourned, Mhone spoke at length in his home language to a cousin who arrived late, before being led away.
Mhone was arrested at the farm on Monday after a 12-hour search for the killer of Brian Pope, 61, and his wife Tillie, 47, Pope. Mhone also allegedly tried to kill Warren Pope and his wife, Marlene. Their children, aged 1 and 4, were not harmed.
It is alleged that early on Sunday, Mhone, a caretaker at the farm, made his way to where the family were staying and shot Brian and Tillie as they slept. He then attacked Warren before stabbing him in the neck with a garden fork.
He is alleged to have hit Marlene in the head and broken her arm. According to police, Mhone forced Marlene and her children into a vehicle and drove to his lodging – also on the farm – to fetch his wife and child. He left the key in the ignition, and Marlene took the opportunity to escape.
The matter has been adjourned to May 6 to give Mhone time to find a lawyer.