A building supply store cashier has relived the nightmare of one of her colleagues being shot execution-style in front of her by a member of a gang who robbed the shop of cash.
Hester Potgieter, a cashier at Dreyers Moot Building Materials in Akasia, yesterday testified in the Pretoria High Court murder and robbery trial of the alleged gang - Enoch Masipa, Bongani Modawe, Johannes Sebyeng, Lolo Langa and Godfrey Mogashoa.
The five pleaded not guilty to murdering an employee at the shop, Hein de Jager, on March 13, 2008, and robbing the shop of a large amount of cash. They did not give an explanation of plea.
Potgieter said it was after 3pm when a customer, Riana Badenhorst, came in asking her for tile grouting.
She noticed a man standing close to De Jager, who was at that stage sitting on a chair.
“I heard a voice saying: ‘People, we want your money.’ As De Jager raised his arms above his head, she heard a shot.
“I then saw a man standing with a smoking pistol in his hand. He cocked the pistol.
“A second man came in behind the counter and pushed a firearm in my side. He told me to open the till.”
Potgieter said he filled her handbag with the money from the till.
Another man stood in front of her, pointing his firearm at her, and told her to open the safe.
One of the robbers already had the key to the safe and knew where it was, Potgieter said.
After she had opened the safe she was pushed into a corner and the gang “dived” into the safe. After taking the money they fled.
Potgieter went back to De Jager, who was lying on the floor. “I spoke to him, but he did not move. I saw there was blood on him.”
By the time the paramedics arrived, De Jager was dead, she said.
Badenhorst testified that while standing at the till in the shop, she saw a man walking in behind her.
She noticed the man was standing very close to De Jager, who was sitting down. The next moment she heard a shot being fired.
“I looked at the man and realised something was wrong. I decided that I was not going to stand still and be murdered.
“I slowly turned around to walk out. When I came close to the door I saw another man standing in the doorway. I walked on and slowly passed behind his back and went to hide behind a corner outside.”
Badenhorst said she then heard Potgieter speaking to De Jager and realised the robbers had left.
She returned to the shop after she had phoned the police.
“I felt that if Hein was still alive, I did not want him to be alone.
“I could not establish whether he was still alive as my heart was pounding so loud I could not feel his pulse. I just sat next to him and prayed loudly for him.”
Badenhorst said she left when the paramedics arrived.
De Jager died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
The woman said she could not identify the robbers as they all wore woollen caps pulled low over their faces.
She said she earlier saw a black car parked outside the shop with a group of men standing next to it. They all wore similar caps.
A truck driver, Phineas Masone, testified that he was in his truck at the time, which was parked in the parking lot of the shop. He saw a black car racing into the parking lot and saw two males opening the boot. They then walked to the shop.
He later heard them rushing back and he got out of his truck to see what was happening. One of the men who came running out of the shop pointed his firearm at him, before jumping into the waiting car that sped off.
(Proceeding) - Pretoria News