Twist in farm murder testimony

2012-03-20 00:00

MIDLANDS farmer Neville Karg told the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday how he returned from fighting a veld fire to find his wife, Lorraine, and two farm employees murdered.

The Kargs had returned the previous day from a short holiday at their beach cottage at St Michael’s-on-Sea.

Before that they had been on a trip to Zambia for four to five weeks, the court heard.

This emerged during the evidence of Neville Karg at the start of the trial of Mzwandile Magubane (21) and Nhlanhla Dladla (22) before Acting Judge M.T. Ncube and assessors.

The two men pleaded not guilty to the murders of Lorraine Karg, Hilda Linyane and Zakius Mhlongo on July 21, 2010, attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances and robbery with aggravating circumstances at Sherwood Farm in Mooi River.

They also pleaded not guilty to charges that they assaulted two other employees, Bonginkosi Mhlongo and Innocent Linyane, with the intention of doing them grievous bodily harm.

The two accused claim to have alibis for the time of the attack.

The state alleges the Kargs and their workers had been lured out of the farmhouse deliberately to clear the way for intruders to gain access to it, but that when Lorraine Karg and some of their employees went back to fetch more fire-fighting equipment, they were attacked and murdered.

The only item stolen was a cellphone.

The state alleges that the robber gang consisted of the two accused and two other men — Colin Maphalala (who was shot dead by police after his arrest) and Magubane’s brother, Velaphi Magubane, who was expected to give evidence for the prosecution yesterday.

However, in a dramatic turn of events when he was called to testify, Velaphi Magubane, who was offered indemnity from prosecution if he testified honestly, denied all knowledge of the offences.

Responding to questions by state advocate Dheelan Naidoo, Magubane said that although he had made a statement to the police about the attack, everything he had said was lies.

He alleged he made the statement under duress after he had been assaulted by the police.

Naidoo excused Magubane as a witness and the court adjourned early to enable the state to reassess its position.

Detailing the events that led to his wife’s death earlier, Karg said they were having dinner when they received a call about a veld fire, and they gathered together a team of fire-fighters.

The fire raged out of control and at one point he asked his wife to go back to the house to fetch more equipment.

After a while he’d realised she was taking too long to return and he went to look for her.

“I started searching the yard and I found the car parked in the driveway with all the doors open. Next to the car, next to a tree, I found my wife’s body … She was already dead,” he said.

Karg said he found Mhlongo’s body near a rondavel used as an office and Hilda Linyane’s body inside the house with the two assault victims.

Karg testified that one of the accused, Dladla, was employed as a tractor driver on his son’s adjoining farm and was highly regarded as a good worker.

The other accused, Mzwandile Magubane, had also previously worked for him on his farm on a casual basis.

Karg said the farmhouse safe did not contain money nor firearms, only documents.

The case is proceeding.

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