‘I saw brother hack my mother’

2009-04-24 00:00

A child who was nine years old when she witnessed her mother being hacked to death with an axe in 2006, allegedly by her half-brother, gave tearful testimony in the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

Arrangements were made for the girl — now 12 years old — to give evidence via an intermediary as she was too traumatised to face the accused, Guqukani Mvelase (24), when called to give evidence on Thursday.

Seated close to the intermediary and facing acting Judge Rose Mogwera and her two assessors with her back turned on the accused, Guqukani Mvelase, the slightly built child gave her evidence in a low voice, explaining how he arrived at her home on July 5, 2006 carrying an axe.

She was sitting outside with her mother, Thuleleni Thabede, and her younger sister was inside the house, she said.

The girl testified that Mvelase greeted her mother and said he was looking for a tree known as “mvithi”.

“My mother said he must chop this mvithi from the tree. He said he was first sharpening the axe. After that, he said my mother must feel how this axe was. He said he was sharpening this axe. After that I saw him chopping my mother with the axe,” she said.

The child said the accused struck her mother on the head and back with the axe and she “lay still on the ground”.

He then ran away still with the axe. She cried and screamed for help and a passer-by on a footpath nearby came to her aid, the court heard.

The child said Mvelase was arrested by neighbours soon after the incident when he returned the axe to the people from whom he had borrowed it.

The child denied defence suggestions that she was mistaken about the identity of the assailant.

She testified that she is related to Mvelase as they both had the same father.

At the conclusion of her evidence, state advocate Dheelan Naidoo asked her to look at the people in the courtroom and indicate if the attacker was present. Timidly the child looked around and then pointed at the accused.

Acting Judge Mogwera thanked the girl for telling “her story” and told her she is a “brave” human being.

The family lives in the remote Mashunka area of Msinga.

Three prominent psychiatrists — Dr B. Lind, Dr S.V. Moodley and Dr J. Dunn — were seated in the court and are expected to be called by the prosecution to give evidence later in the trial.

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