Murder trial: 'Have mercy on me,' widow says she pleaded

2009-04-14 00:00

Nkosingpile Khumalo (21) of Matimotolo and Zikhulile Sembela (29) of Cramond are charged with the murder of Ezrah Podolski, the aggravated robbery of the Podolskis and assaulting their domestic worker Gloria Ngidi. The two men have pleaded not guilty to the charges. A third suspect is still at large.

CRAMOND farmer Ezrah Podolski (71) died while tied to a tree after being bludgeoned on the head with a shovel on his farm on September 5, 2006.

Podolski, who was still in his pyjamas as he was too sick to work, had taken three men, who came to the farm to ask for work, in his bakkie to assign them jobs.

While he was with them they overpowered him and invaded his home, assaulting his wife Miriam.

She told the court that she believes God interceded and saved her as she prayed while being constantly kicked, punched and slapped and when she fell down, pulled up by her hair.

A photograph shows that a rope tying the frail Podolski to the tree went through his mouth.

The Podolski’s domestic employee, Gloria Ngidi, said that after Podolski took the men to the work site, one of the men returned to the farmhouse saying that Podolski needed a “machine for felling trees”.

Neither Ngidi nor Miriam knew where to find it and Miriam told Ngidi to tell the man to tell Podolski to fetch it. A second man came and the two of them pretended to leave, but after a short while, a third joined them and they walked into the Podolski home, Ngidi said.

Ngidi followed them inside as their conduct was unusual. They seized her, assaulted her and tied her up.

Miriam said that when the men entered her home, one grabbed her round the throat, choked her and demanded “the money”.

She said she was being continuously assaulted. While one was beating her she asked: “How could you do this?” He replied: “Because we want the money.” After more beating she asked him: “Why are you doing this to me? Have mercy on me. Do you believe in God?” But he told her to keep quiet because he did not know English.

She told the court she still has a scar on her lip, which was torn in the assault. A police photograph shows that she had a black eye as well as other injuries.

One assailant took her to a small bedroom and the door was closed. She said she realised she had to get him out of that room. She told them that he should see if “he could find something” at a water tank as her husband sometimes left things there.

He took her from the small bedroom and she fell down, but he pulled her up by her hair and carried on kicking, punching and slapping her.

She asked him where her husband was and he replied that they had killed him.

She did not believe him then. While still beating her he said that she was going to die. She told him that their money was in a wardrobe and he threw everything out of the wardrobe. He asked for more money and she said there was no more. He asked for a credit card, but she said that they did not have one, only a cheque book, but he did not take it.

One man made her sit on a chair and tied her wrists together, trussed her feet and tied her to the chair. She then heard steps on the roof and she realised that one of the men was going to the water tank to look for more money.

After she thought they had left, she managed to loosen her feet.

Still tied to the chair, she managed to make her way to the telephone and called the police. They arrived and cut the rope from her wrists. A friend called an ambulance, but it did not arrive so the friend took her to a doctor.

Ezrah and Miriam Podolski moved to South Africa from Israel about 20 years ago and became citizens.

The trial continues today.

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