'I am sorry for taking the gold' – accused in guest house owner's brutal murder

Marie Verwey (Supplied, Netwerk24)
Marie Verwey (Supplied, Netwerk24)

The man who allegedly knifed 80-year-old Paradyskloof guest house owner Marie Verwey accompanied his co-accused after they, needing help to move a cupboard, happened to see him sitting on the side of the road, the Western Cape High Court heard on Thursday.

Andre "Zibby" Coetzee said Verwey's homecare nurse Nicolize Geldenhuys had asked him to help her collect cupboards and clothes from Verwey's home on the day of her murder in February 2017. Coetzee said Geldenhuys was with her boyfriend Romeo Hendricks. 

He said he realised that he would be unable to carry it himself and would need help. He spotted Enrico "Darkie" Malherbe sitting in the street in their neighbourhood of Klein Nederburg, Paarl.

"I told them to stop the car and asked him if he would help me. I wasn't looking for anyone, I just saw him sitting there. It could have been anyone," he alleged.

He, however, could not explain how they would have transported the cupboards in a relatively small car carrying four passengers.

At the start of the trial, Malherbe pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated robbery and murder.

Coetzee – a self-confessed Mandrax addict – admitted guilt to the robbery.

Both their pleas were rejected.

26s gang members

Geldenhuys and her three co-accused are on trial for armed robbery as well as the murder of the woman she affectionately called "Ma". She has admitted to planning a heist after previously seeing the contents of Verwey's bedroom safe but testified that killing the octogenarian was never part of the plan.

Verwey was killed at the Villa Merwe guesthouse, which has since been closed.

Geldenhuys and her now ex-boyfriend pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Her co-accused are all alleged members of the 26s gang.

An apparent high-ranking member and his wife have also been implicated in the planning of the robbery and the selling of the loot. They have not yet been arrested.

Geldenhuys had worked for the Verwey family since 2015, caring for the guesthouse owner's husband. After his death, her services were no longer needed, until the family employed her to take care of Verwey a week before the murder.

She claimed Malherbe had diverted from their original plan to hold up Verwey and the domestic worker and escape with the valuables. According to her, he was the only one who stabbed Verwey.

Bloodied clothes

According to Coetzee, when they arrived at Verwey's house to collect the cupboards, Geldenhuys entered the home and returned to call Malherbe.

She later opened Verwey's gates and Hendricks moved the car to the driveway, he testified.

Geldenhuys and Malherbe returned to the car with two bags. Their clothes had blood spatters, Coetzee said.

After the two returned to the house, Geldenhuys came to call him, he alleged.

In the house, he saw "the miesies" – Verwey – dead in her chair.

"I asked Nicole what was going on, we didn't come for such things. She said she would explain it to me later," he had said.

He admitted to helping Geldenhuys remove the valuables.

It was agreed when they arrived at the alleged gang leader's house in Hanover Park that Coetzee would "staan vir die goud" (take responsibility for the loot taken in the robbery), while Malherbe would take responsibility for the murder, he testified.

Apology to deceased's son

"He said he would staan (stand) for the murder, but he didn't stab alone."

Geldenhuys and Malherbe's clothes were burnt because they were bloodied, he claimed.

Francois "Oog" Coetzee, Andre Coetzee's cousin and also an alleged 26s gangster, had earlier testified that Andre had known about the plan, and that his role would be to tie up Verwey.

Andre denied this.

Francois also testified that he did not recall Andre saying he did not want to be involved in the robbery, as he claimed.

Andre denied that he, Malherbe and Hendricks were putting the blame on Geldenhuys because she was not a gangster or "een van die manne (one of the men)".

Hendricks did not testify and never admitted to being a member of the 26s.

Andre apologised to Verwey's son Francois, who did not attend Thursday's proceedings, for his role in the crime.

"I wanted to tell him that I am very sorry for taking the gold."

The trial was postponed until October 2.

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