We didn’t plan to kill Rattray, says convict

2008-03-06 00:00

A self-confessed killer of battlefields expert David Rattray, who was shot dead on January 26 last year, has told the high court in Pietermaritzburg the intention of the gang was not to murder the historian, but only to steal money.

Zwelihle Mtshali (22), who is currently serving a 25-year jail term for his role in the murder and attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances of Rattray, gave this evidence at the trial of alleged co-conspirators Simphiwe Ndlovu (25) and Sibonele Xolani Mpanza (28), both of whom have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

It was suggested to Mtshali by defence counsel for Ndlovu and Mpanza that he falsely implicated the two because he bore them a grudge.

Mtshali denied this and said Mpanza and Ndlovu were not being truthful when they maintained they were not present during the planning or execution of the robbery at Rattray’s Fugitives’ Drift Lodge.

Asked by Judge Kate Pillay why the gang fled without taking anything if their intention was to rob and not to kill Rattray, Mtshali replied: “The reason we fled was that when [Sibusiso] Nkwanyana and ‘Fanozi’ [Thembinkosi Ndlovu] came out they were then fleeing, so we then fled with them.”

Mtshali said Mpanza came up with the idea to rob Rattray.

Asked by state advocate Dorian Paver how they intended to obtain money he replied: “We were going to demand money. Our intention was not to kill him but to ask him for money … We were going to assault him, but not kill him. Maybe just to instil fear into him by slapping him with open hands.”

He admitted that all six members of the gang were armed with firearms.

He also admitted under cross-examination by defence attorney Surendra Singh that he was prepared to use his firearm if confronted.

The court heard the gunmen accosted an employee at reception and then went to the Rattray home.

There it was decided that only two should enter the house, and Mtshali said Nkwanyana and Fanozi Ndlovu went inside.

Shortly thereafter he heard gunshots go off, and heard Nkwanyana shouting: “Strike him again”. He then heard another gunshot.

When Nkwanyana and Ndlovu emerged, the others asked them what had happened and they replied that they “had shot”.

Mtshali said it was Fanozi Ndlovu who shot Rattray. The gang then fled.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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