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Mbombela - An Mpumalanga man pleaded not guilty to murder in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Wednesday.
Mandla Dube, a self-proclaimed pastor, is accused of beating to death Sabelo Mlombo, 27, with a broomstick in 2011 for stealing a watertank from his yard.
“I always preach in my church that it is wrong to take the law into your own hands,” Dube said.
He admitted assaulting Mlombo at his house after he denied stealing the watertank.
“I gave him a small hiding, only four times. He refused to disclose where he had sold the tank. I only wanted information,” Dube testified.
He said he said he had hired Mlombo to pack bricks at his yard.
Dube was a technical manager for community projects in Mpumalanga's department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs.
He was arrested on September 11, 2011, in connection with Mlombo's death.
The court heard on Wednesday that Mlombo was attacked with a pick-axe handle and a broomstick.
Magistrate Willie Wilkens told Dube a post mortem found that Mlombo's knees were fractured in the assault.
“His forearm also got a fracture. Evidence revealed in court stated the broomstick even broke while you beat him up,” Wilkens said.
The court heard that Mlombo's neck was also broken.
Constable Docus Ngomane, from the Hazyview police station, testified that Dube and three other men took Mlombo to the police station.
“The deceased was tied up with something like a wire or rope, from his legs up to his chest. His hands were also tied up and he was unable to walk,” Ngomane said.
“They left him outside the police station building and called us.”
Ngomane said Mlombo had blood on his head and on his T-shirt.
“We called an ambulance, which took him to hospital,” Ngomane testified.
Dube's friend Michael Madondo told the court he was with him during the entire incident.
“I watched when Dube beat the deceased with the broomstick. He only beat him twice, but slightly on the back of his legs, below the knees,” he told the court.
“The deceased sustained the injuries after he fell into the donga. He hit a rock with his head.”
Madondo said Mlombo had been walking “very well” when they took him to the police station.
“We made a statement and left him there with the police. Dube did not beat him with a pick handle. He only used the broomstick and it was already broken,” Madondo testified.
Dube said he had hit Mlombo on his knees to stop him from fleeing.
“I never caused the injuries. I do not know what happened after we left him with the police,” he said.
The case was postponed to September 17 to allow Dube's new lawyer, Wonder Nkosi, time to have access to previous court records in the case. - Sapa