File picture: Independent Media

Kimberley - A Galeshewe man pleaded guilty in the Northern Cape High Court on Tuesday to murder, kidnapping and assault following an incident last year where a Kimberley resident was brutally stabbed to death.

Naledi Kgadiete, 28, now possibly faces 22 years’ imprisonment after on Tuesday pleading guilty to all charges against him relating to an incident in July last year where Gershwin Swartz was kidnapped and brutally murdered.

Kgadiete on Tuesday had his case separated from his three co-accused, Shaun Carelse, 24, Mamogelo Mocumi, 29, and Boitumelo Matlhola, 20, before handing in a plea agreement in which he indicated that he would be willing to give witness statements and testify against the three remaining accused, after pleading guilty to murder, kidnapping and aggravated assault.

Carelse, Mocumi and Matlhola will appear in court again and face the same charges, following the incident where Swartz was kidnapped while in his blue Polo vehicle and later murdered.

According to a post-mortem report, Swartz died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, as well as several stab wounds, allegedly inflicted by the accused.

His body was found near a shooting range in Phutunang on July 16 last year after he was last seen at his home during the early hours of July 12.

In his plea agreement, handed to the court by State advocate Catherine Jansen on Tuesday, Kgadiete explained the events leading up to the death of Swartz.

The Blue VW Polo that was later found. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Kgadiete said that he had been with Carelse and Motlhala during the early hours of July 12, drinking beer and smoking mandrax in the vicinity of Squeeza’s Tavern, when they walked past the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court building and noticed a vehicle (a blue Polo) parked in the parking lot.

“We saw a parked car, with its lights on. There was a person inside who was asleep in the driver’s seat. Carelse said ‘daar is ‘* dik foon hier binne’ (there is a big phone inside) and asked if someone had a rock to break the car’s window. We found two rocks lying in the parking lot and Carelse managed to crack the driver’s side window. Carelse and I then kicked the window in and gained access to the vehicle and I grabbed the phone, as the driver woke up. All of the guys then pulled out knives,” the plea agreement read.

It then further explained how, after struggling to start the car, the accused drove off with Swartz still in the vehicle. They had a flat tyre and replaced it with the vehicle’s spare wheel. This was at around 6am and 7am on the morning of July 12.

The accused drove across town to several locations and also met with Mocumi in Galeshewe.

After washing the vehicle at a yard in Soul City, they ran out of petrol near Elizabeth Conradie school and Carelse and Mocumi walked to a filling station to collect petrol, leaving Kgadiete and Matlhola with Swartz at the vehicle.

During this time, a “vehicle with sirens” arrived and “two officials” asked the three men why the Polo’s doors were open and who the vehicle belonged to. Swartz told the officials that the vehicle belonged to him, saying that they had come from Squeeza’s and had run out of petrol.

Swartz also gave them the telephone numbers of family members, who the two officials phoned to confirm ownership of the vehicle, and they also checked the number plates, licence disk and engine number to confirm that the vehicle was not stolen, before leaving.

After filling the vehicle with petrol, the four accused drove off with Swartz towards the Barkly West Road, where they pulled off into some bushes and smoked mandrax and dagga.

The plea agreement went on to explain that while talking to Swartz, Kgadiete then noticed a rock flying overhead (coming from where Carelse, Mocumi and Matlhola were smoking) which hit Swartz on the head.

Matlhola then pulled out a knife and started stabbing Swartz in his upper body and also hit him with a rock. Carelse also stabbed Swartz and gave the knife to Mocumi, who stabbed Swarts “from his neck to his stomach” after kicking him. Kgadiete then took the knife from Mocumi and stabbed Swartz three times,” the plea agreement read.

Kgadiete indicated that he “willingly participated (in the stabbing) and was not forced to do so.

Carelse and Matlhola then found a blanket under a tree and they rolled Swartz’s body in it and dragged him under a tree. The plea indicated that the four then left in the Polo, not knowing if Swartz was dead.

With regard to sentencing, Jansen said that 12 years’ imprisonment with regards to the assault, 10 years’ imprisonment with regards to the kidnapping charge and 22 years’ imprisonment with regards to the murder charge had been agreed upon, with the sentences running concurrently.

Jansen stated that mitigating factors included the fact that Kgadiete showed remorse by pleading guilty and did not waste the court’s time. She added that he had accepted responsibility for his actions and was willing to apologise to Swartz’s family, as well as give a witness statement and testify against the three remaining accused.

Jansen said that the mitigating factors amounted to substantial and compelling circumstances for the deviation from the prescribed minimum sentences of 15 years’ imprisonment for aggravated assault and life imprisonment for murder (committed before, during or after an assault).

Judge Johann Olivier is expected to hand down Kgadiete’s sentence in the Northern Cape High Court on Tuesday.

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