American David Bovino returned home from his holiday on the South Coast with 80 staples in his body from three bullet wounds and deep psychological scars, the result of being attacked in his holiday home by three armed men.

To this day, he told Judge Chris Nicholson, sitting with assessor David Winterton in the Ramsgate High Court, he remained traumatised by the events of August 15 2006, which were "the worst thing that has ever happened to me".

His fiancee at that time, Jessica Webster, of Johannesburg, who is expected to testify on Wednesday, still alternates between crutches and a wheelchair after being shot in the stomach.

Webster, now 26, is doing her master's in fine art at Wits University. That she can walk at all is considered remarkable after doctors initially said she would be a paraplegic.

The pair met at the University of Cape Town when Bovino, then a law student in California, was doing a year's study abroad.

Some years later they got engaged and, two years ago, while waiting for Webster to get an American visa, were spending time at her family's holiday home at Leisure Bay when they were attacked.

Bovino, 28, now an attorney based in Aspen, Colorado, returned to the South Coast for the first time since the incident to testify against the three young men accused of the crime.

They are Fana Nhlumayo, 18, Sibonelo Mpisane, 19, and Sifiso Nhlumayo, 20, of Nzimakwe, near Port Edward.

They pleaded not guilty to two charges of attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, indecent assault (it is alleged one put a gun between Webster's legs and threatened to rape her) and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Fana Nhlumayo pleaded not guilty to further charges relating to unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

Essentially their defence is a bare denial.

Certain

But Bovino was adamant on Tuesday that these were the men "who haunt my dreams".

"I am 100 percent certain that accused one, two and three are the men who came into that house," he said.

Responding to their protestations of innocence, he said they were "liars, robbers, attempted murderers and psychopaths", had no credibility and deserved to spend the rest of their days in prison.

Bovino testified that he had been working on his laptop at the dining table when Webster, who had stepped outside to have a cigarette, screamed for help.

He ran to the door and saw "sparks, like firecrackers" in the air as multiple gunshots went off. Webster fell to the ground and the house was then stormed by three armed men.

He was shot in his right thigh, the bullet going though and into his left thigh, during an ensuing struggle.

"I begged them not to kill us. I told them I was American and I offered to pay them money. They seemed to understand what that word meant and two of them followed me into the bedroom where I had my valuables."

On the way he was repeatedly smashed over the head with a wine bottle and had a gun against his head.

After he had given them R2 000 and his Rolex watch, they tried to tie him up.

"I believed that I was going to die for certain. I thought they were going to torture me and rape Jessica," he said.

"I sprung up in a moment of desperation and was shot in the chest."

Bleeding profusely, Bovino managed to run down the passage, open the top half of a stable door and leap over it. He then "ran for my life" to a neighbour.

He and Webster were taken to hospital, operated on and spent many days in the intensive care unit at Margate hospital.

On his release from hospital, Bovino returned to America and the couple subsequently split up.

The trial continues on Wednesday.