Pretoria - Two murderers convicted of killing Meyerspark businessman Dawie Maree in front of his wife and two small children, are insisting that they are not the killers and that the police and the victim’s family “planted” evidence to unfairly implicate them.

The North Gauteng High Court earlier convicted Marabe Talane and Rodney Masemola of Maree’s murder and that of their fellow robber, Martin Tshebesebe. He was shot dead during a scuffle for a gun with Maree after the armed men entered the house on the night of May 23, 2008. Maree and Tshebesebe were fighting for possession of the gun after the robbers entered his bedroom. Maree managed to fire shots. At the same time shots were being fired by another robber.

Judge Tshifiwa Maumela had earlier said it was not known who shot and killed Tshebesebe, but by going to the house armed, the pair knew somebody could be killed. He thus held them responsible for the death of their companion.

Maree’s wife Elana, who has since remarried, tearfully testified how they were woken up by an armed man in their house. As she shielded her two children with her body, her husband tried to retrieve his firearm from under the mattress and the two men fought over the weapon. Shots went off. Her husband, who had been hit, struggled with the wounded robber.

By then the robbers had run out of the house. Elana summoned the help of a neighbour. He took Maree to hospital, but he was already dead.

In a report, a social worker said both men maintained they were not the robbers. Both stuck to their version that they went to the house that night to borrow money from Maree’s domestic worker. She had testified she did not know them at all. Masemola said they were scared of Maree, as his domestic worker said he was a racist. They “sneaked” into the yard, but Maree was alerted when the dog barked.

He claimed Maree walked out of the house and fired shots at them. Later Elana also came out of the house and also fired shots at them.

Both accused were adamant the shooting was outside the house. The petite woman had staged the scene in the bedroom and carried her (hefty) husband and Tshebesebe back into the house, they said. This version was rejected by the court. The pair’s lawyer, Paul Shapiro, earlier told the court he was not minimising the offences, but this was not the “worst” murder ever. He also objected to the widow crying to gain the sympathy of the court. Sentencing arguments are on September 2.

Pretoria News