Judge rejects accused’s evidence as court hears farm murders are on the increase

2014-03-28 00:00

FARM attacks have increased over the past two years, head of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union’s security desk, Koos Marais, told the Pietermaritzburg high court yesterday.

He was giving evidence at the trial of Jabulani Ngobese, the second killer of Eston farmer Mick Hampson (69), who was found guilty yesterday and is due to be sentenced today.

His former co-accused in the case, Siboniso Mtolo, pleaded guilty last week and was jailed for life plus 15 years’ imprisonment by a different court.

Marais testified yesterday that his records show that there were 780 incidents on farms in KZN since 2001. Of that figure 126 were murders and 654 were “attacks”.

He said by “attack” he was referring to any incident on a farm involving violence, mostly robberies.

His statistics showed that in 2012 there were 49 incidents, involving four murders and 45 attacks, and in 2013 there were 57 incidents involving 10 murders and 47 attacks. This showed an increase.

Marais said so far this year he has recorded three murders and nine attacks on KZN farms.

Acting High Court Judge Louis Barnard earlier yesterday rejected Ngobese’s version that he was a “reluctant participant” in the murder of Mick Hampson and attempted murder of his son, Murray (34), at Eston on September 27 last year.

Mick Hampson was shot in the chest at close range with a shotgun as he tried to drive away from the men who had been found trespassing on the farm.

He and his son had ordered the two to get onto the back of the bakkie and were intending to take them to the police for questioning, when they overpowered Murray, took a shotgun away from him and subsequently shot his father with it.

Barnard said he had no hesitation in rejecting Ngobese’s evidence distancing himself from Mtolo’s actions, and said he accepted the version given by Murray Hampson.

“I was impressed by his evidence and I have no doubt he told us the truth no matter how painful it must have been for him,” the judge said.

Murray Hampson testified that when Mtolo had tried to grab the shotgun from him on the bin of the bakkie, Ngobese joined in seconds later.

During the ensuing struggle for the firearm all three of them fell off the vehicle. He then heard Mtolo tell Ngobese to take a knife a stab him and felt a blade between his arm and his side. He managed to knock Ngobese off his back but lost his grip on the shotgun and fell.

Hampson found himself looking into the barrel of the gun, while Mtolo squeezed the trigger but the shot didn’t go off as the safety catch was on. Murray fled into the sugar cane and shouted to his father to drive away.

He heard a gunshot go off and later found his father shot in the bakkie, which had ploughed into trees.

Barnard found Ngobese was not telling the truth when he claimed he’d tried to save Murray by pushing him out of the way when Mtolo tried to stab him.

The judge said Ngobese was intelligent and had tried to “set his sails as close to the state’s case as possible save for a few tweaks” and then added to his testimony as the trial went on.

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