Accused in Sandra Munsamy kidnapping: I’m being forced to plead guilty
Durban - One of the men accused of kidnapping Durban businesswoman Sandra Munsamy has claimed he has been emotionally abused and is being coerced to plead guilty to the crimes.
The man, who made his bail application on Tuesday, said his co-accused were pressuring him to plead guilty. He asked the court to keep him in isolation at the Kokstad prison until his next court appearance next month.
Two of the accused proceeded with their bail applications at the Durban Magistrate’s Court, while the other two accused abandoned bail earlier this month.
The men, who cannot be named due to “highly sensitive information”, all made an appearance in the dock while their bail application was heard by Magistrate Anand Maharaj.
Referred to as accused number 4, the man told the court his co-accused told him if he did not listen to them, they would change their statement to allege he was the “boss” and gave the instructions on the kidnapping. When they were arrested, accused 4 was in the house with Munsamy.
Munsamy, a financial manager at Crossmoor Transport Plant, was kidnapped in Pinetown last year. She was rescued six months later in Witbank, Mpumalanga on November 7.
The men face charges of kidnapping, attempted murder, extortion, robbery with aggravated circumstances and remaining in the country without a valid permit.
Represented by attorney Thobile Sigcau, accused 4 said he was 35 years old and lived with his mother, girlfriend and two minor children in Mpumalanga. He was self-employed and worked in construction.
“I will plead not guilty because I know nothing about this case,” he claimed in his bail application.
In a written statement to the court, he claimed he was called by a friend on October last year who told him he had construction work for him and would pay him R10 000 for the job. When he arrived at the house, he was allegedly told he would be “guarding” an Indian woman whose family owed “the bosses” money.
“I said I can’t do the job and I want to go home. I don’t know who are the bosses he spoke of. I was shown a firearm and ammunition and told that if I mess up, I will be shot.”
He claimed that was the reason he stayed to complete the job. He said he was never paid, even though he was promised between R10 000 and R15 000.
During cross-examination, he claimed his co-accused let him go home as “there was no turning back” since he already knew too much.
He said that in the two weeks he stayed at the house, he never saw Munsamy as she had been kept in a room and she had requested that he not enter her room as she would feel unsafe.
The man claimed it was accused number 3 who would enter Munsamy’s room to give her food, clean the room and do the laundry.
His duties were to clean the house, boil water for Munsamy’s bath and wash dishes.
“She never came out of the room. I was told that her legs were chained. There were times that I was alone at the house with her as (accused number 3) would leave but I never went to the room. I also could not leave because the house was locked,” he said.
Representing accused number 3 in the matter, attorney Mxolisi Nxasana questioned why accused number 4 did not previously tell his attorney that his co-accused were emotionally abusing him.
“I put it to you that all this never happened and is a made-up story,” Nxasana said, which accused number 4 denied.
In a written statement, accused number 3 said he had a wife and four young sons who depended on him.
He claimed he was also called to the house, where Munsamy was kept, by a friend who said he had a job for him. Without giving too much detail, accused number 3 said he had strong family ties in the country and would not evade trial if released on bail.
“The State does not have evidence to prove that I was in Durban for the kidnapping,” he added.
He said he was charged with remaining in the country without a valid permit despite his South African citizenship being verified.
“The weight of evidence against me must be taken into consideration along with my personal circumstances,” he pleaded with the court.
The matter was postponed and adjourned to next month, as the court was told the investigating officer was in isolation after being exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19.