Durban - The young woman accused of the murder of her 60-year-old husband has denied she had any part in his death and has testified that the men who hijacked the couple forced her to undress and tried to rape her.
Cutting a striking figure in the dock, dressed in a black and gold fitted jacket, Thenjiwe Griffiths, 30, was testifying in her defence in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday.
Griffiths, of Imbali, is on trial for the murder of her husband, Allan Griffiths. The State alleges that she arranged for her husband to be killed in a staged hijacking near Colenso on the night of January 20, 2006.
The indictment states that Allan, a pensioner, was an alcoholic who met his young wife at a club in Richards Bay where prostitutes touted for business, and married her soon after.
Thenjiwe allegedly arranged for the killers to pose as hitch-hikers on the road near Colenso that she and her husband were to travel en route from Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal early on January 20, 2006.
He was later found dead by police. He had been strangled. The car was found abandoned on the N3 highway.
Her voice cracking with emotion, Thenjiwe denied any involvement in her husband’s murder, claiming she, too, was a victim of the hijacking and was sexually assaulted by the alleged hijackers.
Thenjiwe said she met her husband in Pietermaritzburg while walking along the road after attending a modelling class. He offered her a lift.
They soon began a relationship, and were married after he paid her family lobolo. In 2005, Allan told her he wanted to move to Midrand because of constant interference from his family, who were unhappy about their marriage.
In January 2006, they were en route to Pietermaritzburg from Joburg to visit Thenjiwe’s family when, near Colenso, they had car trouble.
They were confronted by two men, one of them armed. The couple were ordered into the back seat of the car.
The men drove the couple towards Harrismith and on to a dirt road. There, Thenjiwe claims, she was forced to undress and perform oral sex on one of the hijackers. He pulled her out of the car and tried to rape her against the bonnet, but could not manage. Then the hijackers saw the lights of a car approaching and sped off with Allan still in the car. Thenjiwe was left naked at the side of the road.
Eventually she flagged down a truck driver who drove her to the police station. She said she was shocked when, after being questioned, the police accused her of lying.
The police humiliated her, made derogatory comments about her genitals and assaulted her, she said. The next day police took her back to the crime scene and discovered her husband’s body. En route, she was again physically assaulted by police, who accused her of marrying the “old white man for his money”.
“They shook me so hard that I urinated on myself,” she said.