Man confesses to WWII fighter pilot's murder
Pretoria - A 37-year-old man told the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday that he had taken part in the violent murder and robbery of an elderly World War II fighter pilot.
He said he was living on the streets, and was "desperate for an income".
Judge Cynthia Pretorius found Albert Mothiba guilty of murdering Monument Park pensioner Frans Swemmer, 89, and robbing him of his car, cellphone and household goods.
Mothiba, who pleaded guilty to the charges, was earlier sent for mental observation but was found fit to stand trial.
His co-accused David Maluleka pleaded not guilty to the charges. Maluleka's trial was separated from Mothiba's and was postponed to 25 September.
Swemmer, who survived World War II and the Korean War as a fighter pilot for the South African Air Force, was found in a pool of blood in his house after apparently being dragged there from his garage.
His girlfriend and a neighbour found his body the next day after the neighbour repeatedly phoned a security company because she was worried that Swemmer's garage was open. His car was not there, but the neighbour was told that nothing was amiss.
Mothiba said in a statement he knew Maluleka was a robber and had agreed to help him with a "job" because he basically lived on the street and was desperate for some form of income.
He said it was Maluleka's idea to go to Swemmer's house, but they left after Maluleka took beer and wine out of the garage, as Swemmer was not home.
They went to a park to drink, where they were joined by a third man, Pascal Maremane.
Maluleka and Maremane left, but returned after a while and told him that Swemmer had returned home.
Maluleka suggested that they should return to the house.
He appeared to know Swemmer, because he said the owner had a lot of money in the house.
Mothiba said he waited outside the house while the other two men went in. After a while, Maluleka came out of the garage. He had a hammer in his hand and his clothes were smeared with blood.
Maluleka opened the gate for him and when he went into the garage, he saw the elderly homeowner lying next to the car in a pool of blood.
Assaulted with a hammer
Maremane was assaulting the man with a hammer and he could see that the man was seriously injured.
According to Mothiba, Maluleka invited him to kick the victim, whereupon he kicked Swemmer twice in the chest.
The other two then pulled Swemmer into the house before they ransacked the house.
Mothiba admitted that he had taken part in the robbery knowing that the owner could be killed and had reconciled himself to what the others did, although he did not take part in the initial assault on Swemmer.
He said he had foreseen that kicking Swemmer could hasten his death and he had accepted that the elderly victim was already dying at that stage.
Mothiba was arrested in Hammanskraal while driving Swemmer's car.
He made a full confession and also pointed out Maluleka to the police.
He told the court he was willing to testify against Maluleka.
Mothiba's trial was postponed to 29 May for sentencing proceedings.