I took blame, ritual murder accused says

Johannesburg - Murder-accused Harvey Isha had to take the blame for an apparent satanic ritual in which teenager Kirsty Theologo died, a Johannesburg court heard on Monday.

Isha told the South Gauteng High Court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court he had been fingered by Theologo's mother.

"Kirsty's mom had already mentioned that 'Harvey and his friends did this to Kirsty' and so Jeremy [King] said, from what I understood, that because my name was mentioned by Kirsty's mom, I had to take the blame."

Isha, 24, is on trial with Robin Harwood, Lindon Wagner, and Courtney Daniels for the murder of Theologo, the attempted murder of her 14-year-old friend, and for assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

They have all pleaded not guilty.

Two other accused, Jeremy King and Lester Moody, confessed to the crime and were each sentenced to 17 years' imprisonment, five of them suspended.

Theologo, 18, and the other girl were tied up, doused with petrol, and set alight on a hill in Linmeyer, south of Johannesburg, on 21 October 2011.

Theologo died in hospital, but her friend survived.

Isha said he agreed to take the blame for the crime because it was suggested that he would immediately leave the country.

"I agreed with Jeremy that I take the blame... I knew that he was aware that I wasn't to blame. I agreed that I would go back to the Congo immediately."

He said he agreed just to get away and pretend he was going to locate his passport.

Isha is a Congolese national, but said he had no passport and only had refugee status.

Ran away

He testified that while they were sitting on the hill around a fire drinking, King announced it "was time", to which no one responded.

He then saw Wagner with his arm around Theologo's friend, as if he was trying to choke her.

On the other side, he said he saw Moody, King, and Harwood try to choke Theologo.

"I tried to approach Jeremy to tell him to stop. Also Kirsty was resisting, as Harwood tried to choke her from behind."

At that time when Isha tried to intervene, King lashed out at him, said Isha.

"He told me to back off, so I stepped back and watched. Robin and Kirsty fell on the ground; Jeremy also went onto Kirsty to strangle her."

Moody then hit Kirsty with a rock and all of them, except Isha, went further away from where they all sat.

Isha said the group was about 20 to 25 paces away from him when he heard what sounded like a prayer coming from them.

He said he saw candles and a fire burning in the middle.

"I saw Wagner pour petrol on Kirsty and her friend. I then ran away."

There was no one behind him, but when he got to the bottom of the hill, he ran into Harwood and Daniels.

"Lester then later suggested that he and Jeremy go back to finish the job, but the suggestion wasn't followed through, as Lindon said the girls were already dead."

He went along with Wagner to Wagner's home. They then heard noises outside and saw blue-light vehicles.

"Kirsty's mom told Lindon about me and my friends, and what happened to Kirsty. I didn't protest, because I knew that Lindon knew it wasn't me who did that to the girls."

Isha is on Tuesday expected to be cross-examined by Gail Sidwell, for Harwood.

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