Attacker tells of hammer on Knight

2014-06-18 00:00

“HAPPY and Tsepiso went to Dan Knight and they forced him to lie on the floor. Dan Knight was struggling and I saw Tsepiso hitting him with a hammer on his head.”

This was said in a confession to police which has been admitted into evidence at the trial of three men charged with murdering Knight and attacking his partner, Beth Bucher, at their Underberg farm on October 17 last year.

Tsepiso Ramonyane (20), Bonginkosi Nyawose (33) and Happy Gcina (24) all pleaded not guilty.

Judge Jerome Mnguni, sitting with an assessor, yesterday ruled that a confession by Nyawose is admissible as evidence in the trial, but ruled that another statement by a co-accused Tsepiso Ramonyane (20) had to be excluded.

He made the ruling following a trial within a trial after the two men claimed they were assaulted by police and denied that they were the authors of the confessions. Both accused alleged that they were forced to sign the documents without knowing what the contents were.

Mnguni will give reasons for his ruling in his final judgment.

Nyawose’s confession states that he was visited at his home at Nkwezela, Bulwer, by his friend, Happy, on October 16 last year. Happy told him he “knows a farm at Underberg owned by Dan Knight” who kept “a lot of money” on the farm.

He said they agreed to go to the farm. While waiting for lifts at the roadside they met another friend, Tsepiso, and invited him to join them. They then proceeded to Bulwer where they spent the night at Tsepiso’s aunt’s home. The next day they went to Knight’s farm on foot. They sat in the forest near the house for about three hours and jumped over the fence at about 8 pm

They pushed open the kitchen door and surprised Dan Knight and his wife in the sitting room, busy eating.

Nyawose forced his Bucher to lie on the couch facing down while Happy and Tsepiso forced Knight to lie on the floor.

“I noticed Tsepiso hitting him with a hammer on his head. I then tied the wife with shoelaces on both her hands. Tsepiso tied Dan Knight with shoelaces. I asked the wife where do they keep the money and she told me that they do not have any money. I noticed that Dan was bleeding heavily and he was lying on the floor and I could see that he was very weak,” Nyawose said. The statement described that the men went “all over the house” looking for money but did not find any. At one stage Knight offered to sign a cheque for them, saying he had money in the bank.

Tsepiso found keys to a safe. “I asked the wife where is the safe and she told me it is in a building outside,” Nyawose said.

They removed “two pump guns and another rifle with binoculars” from the safe and returned to the house. Afterwards they loaded laptops, iPads, cellphones and ­liquor into an Isuzu bakkie and left in two vehicles. “Happy drove the Isuzu and I drove the Toyota Landcruiser,” Nyawose stated. The Landcruiser was abandoned in a forest near Bulwer, and the Isuzu was ­later left at Ixopo.

In their testimony, both Ramonyane and Nyawose insisted that they know nothing about the attack on Knight and Bucher. The trial is proceeding.

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