PORT ELIZABETH - A gang member charged with the murder of 12-year-old Aliya "Angel" Tee told the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday that he could not leave his sister's house the night the girl was shot and killed because of "vicious" dogs in the backyard.
Angel was killed in June 2016 when gunmen, posing as police officers, forced open the back door of her Barberry Street home in Bethelsdorp.
Nealon Redhouse, 18, and Deon Harmse, 24, have been charged with Tee's murder and the attempted murder of her parents.
Under cross examination, Harmse testified that he had been living at his sister Glenda's house for a month at the time Angel was shot execution-style in the bathroom of her parents' home.
Glenda's home was also situated in Barberry Street and according to Harmse he could not leave the house due to the vicious dogs that did not recognise him. He said that his sister would take the dogs to the backyard at night.
According to Harmse, on the night Angel was killed he was asleep at his sister's until the next day.
State Prosecutor Mujaahid Sandan put it to Harmse that he was fabricating evidence about the dogs to bind him to his sister's house.
"Tell the truth, you went to stay at Glenda because the police can't access the house as quickly because the dogs will bark," said Sandan.
He also criticised Harmse for bringing up an issue of dogs for the first time during cross examination and not during his evidence-in-chief.
While Harmse denied being part of the Spotbouers gang, he admitted to being a 26 gang member in prison with the rank of 'glas' (glass).
Judge Mandela Makaula wanted to know from Harmse what he needed to do to earn respect and become a 'glas' in prison.
"Before you can become a 'glas' you need to be clean, be disciplined, neat and tidy," Harmse responded.
"When you say to be clean, it means to stab or kill someone, if you follow these instructions you climb the ranks quickly?" asked Sandan.
But Harmse would only say that it would depend on how he treated others at prison but conceded that inmates with a 'glas' rank "never got their hands dirty".
Several tattoos on his body seemingly show Harmse's affiliation to the 26 gang in prison. These include a picture of a book with a sun rising on his right arm, a coin with a 26 number and a crown on his left arm among others. Three stars on each of his top shoulders indicated the 'glas' rank.
Sandan pleaded with Harmse: "Do the right thing by God and speak the truth. Tell the court what happened in June 2016. Free yourself from this burden."
Harmse, however, maintained that he was never at the Tee's house, that he never went around their backyard and he never shot and killed anyone. The court also heard that Harmse's sister, Glenda, has refused to come testify as a defence witness.
Angel was a Grade7 pupil and prefect at Strelitzia Primary School in Port Elizabeth's Northern Areas. According to the State, her father, Edmund, was shot and incapacitated while trying to fend off the attackers. After the men shot Edmund, they allegedly proceeded to look for other family members in the home.
Angel and her mother, Candice, were in the bathroom when they were discovered by the gunmen. After pleading with the men not to shoot, the schoolgirl was shot in the head. Her mother survived and according to her evidence, passed out during the shooting. She later regained consciousness to discover her daughter’s lifeless body covered in blood.
Redhouse and Harmse have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder, housebreaking with intent to commit murder and unlicensed possession of firearm and ammunition.
According to Candice Tee, Redhouse had grown up in front of her as a child and used to come play with her then toddler son at their home as he was their next door neighbour A month before Angel was shot and killed in cold blood, Tee had witnessed a shooting across from her house which involved the killing of a notorious gangster Donovan “Staal” Berry, according to her evidence before court.
The case will continue on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Redhouse, Harmse, Algershin Goliath and Shelton Malgas together appeared before court on Wednesday in connection with Berry's murder. That case was postponed until October 10 for a pre-trial conference.
African News Agency/ANA