Court: Man admits farmer was senselessly ‘mown down’

2008-09-02 00:00

A 34-year-old man cried in the high court yesterday and apologised to the family of murdered Cramond farmer Andrew Main (53) for participating in his slaying on the night of September 23, 2007.

But state advocate Pretty-Girl Ngcobo has urged Judge Thumba Pillay and an assessor to nevertheless impose life imprisonment on Mthokozisi Blessing Jali of Mpolweni, Cramond, saying that, on Jali’s own admission, Main was not given any opportunity to defend himself and was shot with an AK47 rifle as he alighted from his vehicle at his farm, Gilmore.

Jali and his accomplices intended to break into Main’s house and steal weapons and money.

“The most heinous offences are being committed with stolen firearms. He [Jali] admitted that the firearms they took would have been used to commit further offences,” said Ngcobo.

Judge Pillay said he will pass sentence on Jali tomorrow.

Jali’s lawyer, Divesh Mootheram, asked the court to find that compelling and substantial circumstances exist that will allow the court to impose less than life imprisonment.

He submitted that Jali demonstrated “genuine remorse” and showed he is capable of rehabilitation. He said Jali asked to give evidence in mitigation of sentence so he could apologise to Main’s family.

In his testimony, Jali told the court that he decided to plead guilty to Main’s murder, and to robbery with aggravating circumstances and unlawful possession of an AK47, because he knows he “made a mistake”.

“What I’m telling the court is coming from deep in my heart … I’d like the family of the deceased to forgive me,” he said. He said he did not know Main.

The goods stolen were a 12 bore Army and Navy shotgun, a ,303 Parker-Hale rifle, a ,38 special Smith and Wesson revolver, three camping chairs, a cooler box and Main’s Mazda bakkie.

In a written statement to the court, Jali said that during a visit to his homestead in Mpolweni, his cousin and co-accused Mzamo Wiseman Jali (who will face trial separately on February 2 next year) and Lucky Ntombela (who was killed) told him that Main had a safe that contained cash and weapons and suggested that they should rob him. He agreed to help.

Mxolisi Gcwabashe — who was jailed for seven years last week after pleading guilty to possessing the AK47 — provided the weapon, he said.

Jali said the gun was kept by Lucky Ntombela, who shot Main with it.

“Our intention was to use the firearm to induce the deceased into submission,” he said.

He, Mzamo Jali and Ntombela lay in wait for Main, who arrived home at about 11 pm.

“As he alighted, Lucky fired on the deceased with the AK47. He fell to the ground. We approached … examined him and discovered he was dead. We removed his bunch of keys … ”

The trio then broke into the farmhouse, took guns and ammunition and other goods and drove off in Main’s vehicle.

In reply to questions by Judge Pillay, Jali agreed that Main did not resist and was simply “mown down”. He also agreed that they could have overpowered him without shooting him.

“I also asked why he [Main] was being shot at … The person who fired at the deceased said he didn’t mean to,” he said.

Jali said he was “not at rest” after the incident and realised he will not be until he is punished.

He said he co-operated when police traced him and even directed them to where he was staying when they telephoned to say they wanted him in connection with the case.

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