Gun-toting boss forces workers to drink laced coffee, lands behind bars

2013-04-09 00:00

A HOWICK businessman spent the weekend in the custody of the Mpophomeni police after he was arrested and charged with attempted murder.

The businessman allegedly forced three of his employees to drink coffee laced with brandy late on Friday afternoon.

The employees, Letlise Kgwati, Charles Mofokeng and a man only identified as Tsolo, were doing building work on the businessman’s farm in Mpophomeni.

They said they had knocked off at about 6 pm and left the farm in Kgwatli’s vehicle on their way to their homes in Dambuza.

As they were about to pass the farmhouse, they said, the man stopped them and invited them in for coffee.

The men claimed they could tell that the coffee was laced with alcohol, probably brandy.

When they declined, the farmer allegedly forced them to drink the coffee at gunpoint.

“I don’t know what got into him because he knows I don’t drink alcohol,” said Mofokeng.

“I don’t even smoke, but that evening I was forced to do so. We couldn’t take any more and we had to force our way out,”

He alleged that as they got into Kgwati’s car the businessman shot at the wheels. Tsolo managed to run away while they were trapped in the car.

The businessman fired several shots at Tsolo, “and then forced us back into his house”, he said.

“The police arrived some time after they were alerted … by our colleague.”

The businessman and the two employees were taken to the police station where he was charged with attempted murder.

Kgwati said he wanted the businessman to pay for the damage and trauma he put them through.

The two men, who were at the court yesterday, said they would be there again next Monday, but they seemed to have a different understanding of what they hoped to achieve.

Mofokeng said they would withdraw the attempted murder charge by agreement with their employer.

Kgwati insisted he made no such agreement.

A police source close to the investigation said the case was not on yesterday’s court roll.

“I understand that the businessman and the complainants have reached an out-of-court settlement.

“I understand that they are coming to court on Monday to withdraw the charges.

“One can only deduce that the man had paid the complainants off,” he said.

Howick police spokesperson Captain Lolly Moodley confirmed that the businessman had spent the weekend in custody after he was charged with attempted murder.

“The man allegedly forced his employees to drink coffee laced with alcohol.

“We understand that no one was injured during the incident, but police confiscated his firearm.

“A number of spent cartridges were recovered from the scene.

“Police cannot leave the matter as it stands because a firearm was discharged in public.

“We will keep it open until the investigations are finalised,” said Moodley.

He would not confirm whether there had been an out-of-court settlement.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Ramkisoon said that in some cases opposing parties opted for an alternative dispute resolution process and an amicable agreement was reached.

“In this particular case I will have to get more details from the prosecutor for me to understand what constituted the settlement,” she said.

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