Tearful accused was ‘shocked, frightened’ during Dargle killing

2010-09-03 00:00

ONE of two men on trial for the September 2009 robbery of Dargle couple Collin and Nola Barrett and the murder of their gardener — an alleged accomplice to the incident — became emotional yesterday while giving evidence in his defence.

Gcina Mthalane (27), who claims he did not willingly take part in the robbery, began crying when he told the court that two of his companions had taken “a boy” into a room at the farm and that he heard a gunshot go off.

He testified that they were his co-accused in the trial, Mnqobi Zondi (26), and a man named “Smanga” (Smangaliso Shange who gave evidence for the state earlier in the case).

Zondi denied in his evidence that he took part in the robbery of the Barretts’ property, or that he shot the gardener, Erasmus Mncube, allegedly because he was angry that they had not found money at the premises as Mncube had promised.

Zondi told Judge Leona Theron and two assessors that all the witnesses who implicated him were lying when they testified that he planned and executed the robbery.

He said he remained in the vicinity of his home at Elandskop on the day of the incident.

Mthalane testified that he accompanied three men — “Zakhele”, Shange and Zondi — but did not know that they were planning a robbery.

On arrival at the Barretts’ farm he saw Shange produce a firearm and point it at a white man in the doorway of the kitchen. A “tussle” ensued.

He said his three companions entered the house, but he remained outside. “I was shocked and frightened,” he said.

He said Shange told him to come inside. He did so because he was afraid he might be harmed. Shange then told him to “watch the white people”.

Mthalane said he “acted” as though he was looking for things in the house, but did not search for or remove any property himself.

“Smanga and accused 2 (Zondi) then took that boy that we met there … They entered a room with him and I heard a gunshot,” he said, wiping tears from his eyes with his shirt sleeve. The case is proceeding.

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