Five accused ‘knew nothing’

2011-06-01 00:00

FIVE men pleaded not guilty in the Pietermaritzburg high court yesterday to the murder of Rietvlei farmer Alan Rowe, who was gunned down at the entrance to his farm, Bloemendal, on the evening of May 13, 2009.

The five accused, Zakhele Ndlela (31), Mbuso Mabaso (19), Msawakhe Khumalo (25), Zwelibuyile Mhlongo (30) and Goodenough Ngiba (27), said in brief statements read by their defence counsel, Phumlani Bhengu, that they knew nothing about Rowe’s murder and some maintained they did not even know where Rietvlei is.

Only Mabaso and Khumalo admitted that they knew each other, but said they did not know any of their other co-accused.

The state alleges in its indictment that a few months prior to Rowe’s murder one of the accused, Ndlela, had met up with a former employee of the farmer — Sibonelo Duma — who had been dismissed by Rowe.

The two men allegedly decided to rob Rowe of cash and property as they needed money and they approached the other accused to join them.

On the evening of May 13 — a Wednesday — the assailants, proceeded to Bloemendal farm with firearms to execute their plan. On arrival they hid themselves and waited for Rowe to arrive.

The farmer drove into his premises and alighted from his vehicle.

However, he became aware of the presence of the assailants and went back to his car.

As he did so the attackers opened fire on him. He tried to flee but was killed.

After the shooting the assailants abandoned their plan to rob the farmer and fled the scene.

Rowe died at the scene of gunshot wounds to his lung and heart.

It is alleged that when Mabaso was arrested at Inanda on July 18,2009, he was found in possession of seven rounds of live 9 mm ammunition and eight live rounds of .45 mm ammunition. Mabaso has denied the allegation.

The case is proceeding before Judge Isaac Madondo and assessors.

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