Ordeal at gunpoint

2014-05-06 00:00

A YOUNG woman testified yesterday how a gunman played a “sort of Russian roulette” with her and her father, pointing his firearm at each of them in turn while demanding money.

A short while later, from inside the house, she’d heard two gunshots go off, and her father wailing in intense pain, the distraught victim said, choking back tears.

Louise Hartwig was testifying at the trial of two men, Nkosinathi Emmanuel Mngadi (29) and Sifiso Alfred Ngubane (24) of KwaMashu, charged with the murder and robbery of her father, Peter Charles Hackland (61) at Cromleigh farm in Ixopo on May 7 last year.

They are also charged with assaulting Hartwig and Margaret Fennell, who worked in an office at the farm.

Both men pleaded not guilty and said they were nowhere near the farm at the time of the incident. But Hartwig told Acting Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati and assessor Fred Heuer that they were the men who’d attacked them that day.

She said Mngadi was armed with a gun when she first saw him and Ngubane on either side of her father, holding his arms, and “struggling” with him while he shouted at them, telling them they had no money on the farm.

Hartwig, who lives in Hilton, said she was busy studying at the farm that day when the attackers struck around 12.35 pm. She was going to prepare lunch when she heard “noises” and realised her father was shouting.

She saw him outside between the two accused.

“I ran at them … I told them to leave my father alone and what do they want. Then I realised that he was shouting that they have a gun … At that point I looked at accused one [Mngadi] and I could see he was holding a gun in his right hand. He was pointing it at my father.”

She said the men demanded money and threatened to kill them.

Ngubane had let go of her father, grabbed her by her neck and forced her into the house.

“He was quite aggressive … He kept repeating that I should give him money,” she said.

Just then Fennell came out of her office and asked Ngubane what he was doing.

He grabbed her too, dragged both women into the pantry, and pushed them to the floor.

“Margaret was sort of struggling with him and I said to her, ‘They’ve got a gun,’ to make her not resist,” said Hartwig.

She said Ngubane started hitting her and Fennell alternately while demanding money.

“He hit me with an open hand and my head bashed against the deep freeze,” she said.

“I was vaguely aware that there was still shouting outside and my dad was saying we don’t have money … When he was hitting me I was just repeating what my dad was saying.

“When he hit Margaret again she started singing a hymn and as she started singing he hit her really hard. I told him to leave her alone because she was just working there. Then he took out a pepper spray and he pepper-sprayed her in her eyes.

“He was about to spray me too but I averted my eyes and so I was only partially sprayed. He then forced me up again.”

Hartwig said her grandmother — who is 84 years old and speaks no English — appeared looking bewildered.

“The man looked at her and then he pepper-sprayed her directly in her eyes,” she said.

Hartwig returned to where her father was being held and said at that point Mngadi played “Russian roulette” with them, shouting for money.

The situation was desperate because they had nothing to give them, she said.

Hartwig fetched her wallet and credit cards and gave them to Ngubane, who threw them on the floor.

She said she cannot remember events clearly, but recalled hearing gunshots and her father wailing in pain.

She said the men tried to force her to open a safe and threatened to shoot her unless she did so, but she didn’t have keys.

Hartwig will continue testifying today.

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