Marine tried to avert deadly brawlComment on this story
Durban - Former Royal Marine Brett Williams tried to avoid a confrontation that eventually led to him being beaten to death, the Durban Regional Court was told on Tuesday.
Williams “put up his hand to indicate that he did not want to engage”, said a statement by witness Kim de Villiers read to the court.
De Villiers then saw Williams move off to a table where a woman was selling koeksisters.
But a verbal spat between Williams and Grant Cramer continued until Williams threw a punch at Cramer.
Brothers Blayne and Kyle Shepard, Andries van der Merwe, and Dustin van Wyk each face one charge of murder, three of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and one of crimen injuria.
They are accused of beating Williams to death outside Kings Park Stadium following a Super Rugby match between the Sharks and the Melbourne Rebels in Durban in March last year.
Cramer was testifying when De Villiers's statement was put to him by Christo van Schalkwyk, for the Shepard brothers.
De Villiers said Cramer was aggressive and shouted at Williams.
“What the fuck did you say? Where are you from?,” De Villiers said he heard Cramer shouting, before Williams attempted to back away.
After Williams threw the punch, De Villiers then said he saw Cramer put Williams in a choke hold and drop him to the floor before paramedics arrived at the scene.
Cramer denied in court that he had been aggressive towards Williams.
He said it was in fact Williams who had been aggressive.
Earlier, the court heard that Cramer and Blayne Shepard had received threatening messages while they were in court on Monday.
The court was told on Tuesday that Cramer received a message through social media site Facebook that his “day would come”.
Cramer told the court he had received the message from somebody called Anton Schutte.
The message read to court said: “You think because you let go after you choked him and your friends kicked him to death that you are not part of this murder. You f***ing are pal and your day will come. Bunch of cowards! P**s!”
Cramer said he did not know who Schutte was and had received the message while he was giving evidence before Monday's lunch break.
It emerged that Blayne Shepard had also received a threatening message via Facebook.
Van Schalkwyk told the court Shepard's message had been sent to his client five minutes before the one received by Cramer.
It was also read to the court and contained numerous expletives.
The Facebook profile or profiles of the person who had sent the messages had been deleted.
Van Schalkwyk said his client also said he did not know who sent the message.
Cramer said he and the four accused had received threats ever since the incident happened.
Cramer, who was being cross-examined by Van Schalkwyk, denied that he had contributed to Williams's death.
Cramer was initially charged with assault, but told the court he had believed he faced a murder charge along with the other four.
Cramer and Blayne Shepard were best friends prior to the incident and had been gym partners.
He denied Van Schalkwyk's assertion that he had been part of the attack involving the four accused.
On Monday, Cramer told the court he and Williams had twice had an altercation that night, after Williams had allegedly sworn at his girlfriend. This was before the attack that involved the four accused.
All four have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The trial continues on Wednesday.