Defence nitpicks at testimony of farmer's widow

2017-09-11 20:06
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Pretoria - The defence counsel of murder accused Schalk Myburgh and his son Schalk Myburgh jnr took her time on Monday morning cross-examining and nitpicking at the evidence of Anna Mavula, the widow of farmer Muraga Mavula.

Muraga, 64, was allegedly beaten and driven over by Myburgh, 56, and Myburgh jnr, 30, on the evening of December 28, 2015. The two men are standing trial in the High Court in Pretoria for Muraga's murder.

During the cross-examination of the widow, who was the first witness to be called on Friday afternoon, the defence's Advocate Adele Janse van Vuuren questioned her about discrepancies between the statement she gave to police and her evidence-in-chief in court.

In the police statement, she said that her neighbour Carl Laubscher arrived on the scene with one white man, but in court she said both the accused were with Laubscher when he arrived in a bakkie and asked her what was wrong. 

"I saw my husband wasn't alive and I started to scream. Carl came to ask me what happened; I showed him my late husband's body," said Mavula.

"I think I made a mistake by not mentioning the third person as Carl told me 'the two who murdered your husband were the Myburghs'."

'Whites killing my father'

She added that she was not in a good psychological space when she gave the police the statement. 

The defence also asked Mavula if she would comment on the account of a defence witness that she had answered the phone and not her daughter and that they spoke about an assault, not a killing. 

She said the witness's testimony would be a lie and maintained that her daughter answered the call, rushed to her and said: "They say the whites are busy killing my father."

The defence also engaged in a repetitive line of questioning about the speed at which Mavula drove to the scene, how she turned into the road where her husband's body lay and on what side of the road she drove after turning into the road.

Mavula, who was visibly agitated, answered and at one stage told the defence: "Don't put words in my mouth."

Advocate Jennifer Cronje, for the State, also interjected about the repetitiveness of the questions. 

Emotions running high

The presiding Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela had to call the court to order after the State, the defence team and Mavula all became highly agitated at the line of questioning and responses. 

Maumela asked all involved to keep the decorum of the court and not to let their emotions get in the way of proceedings. 

He told Mavula that she had managed to keep her cool until now, and urged her to maintain it. 

ALSO READ: Widow of slain farmer returns to the scene

The State contends that the Myburghs murdered the farmer, who was out that evening with two of his sons looking for a lost goat.

The Myburghs have alleged that they confronted him over the ownership of two animal carcasses that he had in his possession.

A fight then allegedly broke out. The accused claimed they acted in self-defence.

The trial is expected to continue on Tuesday.   

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime

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