A 28-year-old man was holding up his arms in surrender when he was shot dead during a robbery at a Pretoria hardware store, a witness told the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday.
Riana Badenhorst, who witnessed the murder of Pretoria North businessman Hein de Jager at the Dreiers hardware store in 2008, was testifying in the trial of five men on charges of murder and robbery.
Enoch Masipa, Benginkosi Modawe, Johannes Sebyeng, Lolo Langa and Godfrey Mogashoa have pleaded not guilty to murdering De Jager, robbing the shop of cash and robbing Hendrik van Niekerk of R900.
Charges relating to another robbery at PQ Clothing were withdrawn because the complainant could not be traced.
Badenhorst told the court that she was at Dreiers and was talking to an employee when two men came in and “went to stand very close to De Jager”, who sitting at his desk.
She could hear them talking, but not what they were saying.
“Hein looked surprised. He moved back a little and then raised his arms. When his arms were halfway, the man nearest to him seemed to push him and then I heard a shot,” she said.
“Hein fell straight from the chair with his hands still up... I turned around because I did not want to see what was happening.
“I realised immediately something was terribly wrong and I decided not to stand still while someone shot me.
“I turned around slowly and walked towards the door. Someone was standing at the door... but I slipped behind him and went to hide outside.”
Badenhorst returned after the attackers had left because she did not want De Jager to feel that he was alone.
“I tried to feel if there was a pulse, but I was so frightened I could only hear my own heart beating.
“I sat with him and prayed for him until the paramedics arrived,” she said.
Hester Potgieter, a cashier, testified that she was talking to Badenhorst when she noticed someone come in and go to De Jager.
Then she heard a voice say: “People, we want your money” and a gunshot.
She saw a man with a smoking gun in his hand and two others pointing firearms at her.
She was ordered to open the till and the robbers put R6000 into her handbag. One of the robbers also had the key to the safe and Potgieter was forced to open it.
The robbers took out R900 before making their escape.
Potgieter returned to De Jager, who was lying in a pool of blood on the floor. She spoke to him, but he did not move and was dead by the time paramedics arrived.
The trial continues. -