Cape Town - One of the men accused of killing teenager Franziska Blöchliger decided to rob her because he needed money to keep his child in crèche, the Wynberg Magistrate's Court heard on Tuesday.
Howard Oliver, 28, a married father of two, claimed that while he had robbed the 15-year-old Kalk Bay girl as she jogged through Tokai Forest on March 7, he had not killed her.
He said he witnessed co-accused Jonathan Jonas shove her face into the ground and rape her. He said he was unable to do anything as Jonas had held them both at gunpoint.
This was contained in an affidavit Oliver submitted as part of his bail application. His lawyer Monique Carstens read it to the court.
Oliver claimed he had walked through Tokai Forest after leaving De Kleine Constantia, where he worked as a general labourer.
He said had failed to secure a loan at his workplace to pay his child's crèche fees.
'I let her slowly slide to the ground'
After smoking Mandrax, he had "the idea" to rob someone to get the money to keep his child in crèche.
Jonas saw him in the forest, and told him he was waiting for someone, Oliver claimed.
He said he saw Franziska jogging a distance from him. The sun reflecting off the screen of her cellphone, which was strapped to her arm, caught his attention.
He told Jonas, nicknamed Jakkals, that he was going to rob her.
"I moved towards her. She jogged past me and I ran up behind her and grabbed her from behind in a chokehold around the neck with my one arm. She became unconscious from the pressure of my arm against her throat and I let her slowly slide to the ground.
"I grabbed her cellphone and was quickly putting it in my bag as I wanted to leave before she saw my face."
He said he had never asked Jonas to help him with the robbery.
'The girl and I had to obey'
Franziska regained consciousness and got to her feet, Oliver said. Jonas then had told her to hand over more items, and she had given him her ring and watch, which he gave Oliver to put in his bag.
He bent over and, when he looked up, Jonas had a gun and was pointing it at the girl, he claimed.
Oliver said he pleaded with Jonas to put the gun away as it would "make everything worse".
"I begged him that we can simply leave. I kept pleading with him to just let us go, but he refused to listen to reason."
Oliver claimed Jonas had told them to move deeper into the fynbos, despite his protesting.
"He became angry at me and also pointed the gun at me. The girl and I had to obey. I still tried to whisper to the girl that she must stay calm.
"He told us to sit down and told the girl to undress. I asked him again to not continue with this, but he ignored me."
According to Oliver's affidavit, Jonas then forced him at gunpoint to take Franziska's shoelaces and tie her hands.
"He then proceeded to rape the girl and, whilst doing so, he pushed her head into the sand. I tried to get away from him during the incident, but he kept his gun trained on me and told me he would shoot me if I move.
"When he was finished I was under the impression that the girl was still alive and simply unconscious. I am still convinced I saw her breathing when we left."
'He warned me not to tell anyone'
They left the forest together. Jonas took a different route at the gate to "get rid of the gun".
Oliver said Jonas had warned him not to say anything about this to anyone or he would shoot him.
In Westlake, he said he had asked another co-accused, Jerome Moses, to help him sell the phone in exchange for drugs.
They could not find a buyer because interested people either did not have money or saw that the phone was password protected.
They eventually sold the phone to another co-accused, Daniel Easter.
Oliver was arrested at his workplace the next day, along with the other three accused.
"In the cells, Jakkals (Jonas) continuously threatened me. He warned me not to tell anyone that he was involved in the matter and that I should admit full responsibility as soon as possible so as to withdraw the case against him.
"He threatened that, should I not obey him, he would have my wife kidnapped, taken out of the province, raped and killed in the same manner as the deceased. He also threatened that he knows my father only has one leg and will not be able to outrun any harm that comes to him."
He claimed that Jonas had forced him, while in custody, to write a letter in which he admitted to the charges.
"He dictated to me what needed to be written. The other people in the cell witnessed this duress, to which one will come and testify before the trial court."
'I fear for my life in prison'
He claimed that during his first court appearance, Jonas had ordered him to instruct his attorney to read the letter out loud in court. Oliver, however, said he had asked her to give a copy to the State instead.
"Now that I have told the court the truth, I fear for my life in prison, as I was warned that I would be killed should I testify to this effect. I have already been attacked in prison by others with the aim of obtaining my silence," his affidavit reads.
"This has led me to wonder whether I should not rather take my own life, but have since been advised on several occasions that suicide will not help bring out the truth."
Carstens told News24 her client had decided to give evidence on the merits of the case after the State informed them that only one indictment - for Oliver - had been prepared and that Jonas was to turn State witness.
Oliver had previous convictions for assault, theft, common robbery, and possession of possibly stolen goods.
The State is opposing bail.
Moses, also represented by Carstens, was finalising a plea and sentencing agreement for possession of stolen property.
Last month, he was granted relaxed bail conditions to allow him to be treated at a drug rehabilitation centre in Elsies River until January 20.
Carstens confirmed Easter would plead guilty to possession of stolen property, for having Franziska's cellphone.