I killed him over wages, says gardener

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 A former gardener claimed he killed his elderly employer in a fit of rage because he had refused to pay his wages and had threatened to kill him.

On Monday Jacob Pantsi Mmekwa, 32, of Stinkwater, admitted murdering his 68-year-old employer Sarel Koekemoer, but denied robbing him of his cellphone and firearm.

A second accused, 21-year-old Levy Mthombeni, admitted being on the scene and seeing Mmekwa stab Koekemoer to death, but denied being involved in the murder or robbery.

Koekemoer's daughter Anja Swart testified that she discovered her father's body in his bathroom after going to investigate when he did not arrive for dinner at her home and failed to answer his phone.

Mmekwa said in an explanation of plea that Koekemoer had failed to pay his salary and had made empty promises to pay him.

This resulted in his wife accusing him of spending his money on drink.

On the day of the crime, he went to work as usual and started digging a trench, but then confronted Koekemoer about his salary.

He said he was surprised when Koekemoer accused him of stealing a grinder and a drill and a heated argument ensued.

He claimed Koekemoer, who was armed with a handmade knife, tried to set his dogs on him, grabbed him by the shirt, called him a “k****r” and said he would kill him.

“A struggle ensued and I managed to take the knife from the deceased.

“He was now unarmed, but I was enraged and swiped him with the knife. The knife struck him somewhere in his throat,” he said.

Mmekwa said he left when Koekemoer ran into his house and did not return.

Mthombeni told a totally different story in his plea explanation.

He claimed Mmekwa asked him to accompany him to Koekemoer's place that day.

They went drinking after Koekemoer sent Mmekwa away, but later returned.

Mmekwa went inside while he went to the shop to buy cigarettes. On his return, Mmekwa invited him inside and told him he had killed the deceased, who he saw lying in the kitchen.

According to Mthombeni, Mmekwa threatened him with a firearm and told him to search the house.

When he came back, he found Mmekwa dragging the deceased to the bathroom, sitting on him and stabbing him in the neck.

He said he wanted to make sure his victim was dead because the man knew him.

The trial continues. - Sapa


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