Couple tells of gunpoint attack

2010-09-01 00:00

LION’S RIVER couple Collin and Nola Barrett described in the high court yesterday how each of them had guns held to their heads when they were attacked, tied up and robbed on their smallholding, God’s Grace Farm, on September 16 last year.

The state alleges the assailants were helped by the Barrett’s gardener, Erasmus Mncube, but that he was shot dead by one of the gang in anger when the robbers did not find money.

Nola and Collin Barrett told Judge Leona Theron and two assessors they last saw Mncube alive when he was dragged past the bathroom where they had been put — bound hand and foot with shoe laces — by the assailants.

After plucking up the courage to free themselves and leave the bathroom, the couple found Mncube lying in a pool of blood on a bed in one of the bedrooms. A post mortem showed he died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Mnqobi Zondi (26) and Gcina Mthalane (27), of Elandskop, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Mthalane said in a statement he had not willingly participated in the incident and had wanted to flee after seeing his companions point a firearm at a “white male” at the farm.

He said he was compelled “out of fear” by one of his companions to enter the house.

Zondi denied he was at the Barrett’s smallholding that day.

Collin Barrett testified that he recognised both the accused and pointed them out on a police identity parade. His wife identified Zondi.

Describing the incident, Collin Barrett (64), a pensioner, said he and his wife were in the kitchen at about 12.30 pm when he saw a person at the door.

As he opened the door a man stuck a gun in his face. “I reacted by going for the gun … in the tussle the two of us fell down,” he said.

At that point another robber put a gun to his head.

Barrett said another man apprehended his wife and also held a gun to her head.

Together with Mncube, they were forced to the main bedroom.

The couple were made to sit and Mncube lay on the floor in the bedroom while it was searched.

Barrett handed over the safe keys to the robbers, but said it contained no money, just a box of old coins, two firearms and passports.

He told the robbers they did not have money. “I said to them you can ask Erasmus. We don’t keep money here … That’s when the whole scenario changed.”

One of the robbers kicked Mncube. Another went into the cupboard and started taking the laces from shoes, he said.

After tying their hands and feet, the Barretts were dragged to the bathroom and they saw Mncube being dragged away past the doorway.

A third accused in the trial, Zakhele Ntamo (30) pleaded guilty before another judge to robbery with aggravating circumstances and possession of a firearm and ammunition arising from the attack on the Barretts. Ntamo will be sentenced on Monday.

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