Tears at murder trial

Defense attorney Maggie Pillay, Interpreter Ayanda Vandla and defense attorney AS Seedat confer with accused Sibusiso Sabelo Zulu and Thandiwe Cele PHOTO: Orrin Singh

‘WHEN I consider my future, I am deeply saddened. When I get married, he will not be there to walk me down the aisle.’

These were the heartbreaking words of an extremely emotional Keira Johnson in the Mtunzini High Court on Tuesday as she tried to fight off the tears.

At her own request, Keira was called to the stand in the trial against Thandiwe Cele (52), Nana Madikane (44) and Sibusiso Sabelo Zulu (24), found guilty of robbery and the murder of her father, Peter Johnson (56), on a farm in Nyoni in 2015.

They appeared in court on Tuesday morning as the two-year case draws to a close.

Cele and Madikane were on Monday found guilty of robbery, while Zulu was found guilty of robbery with aggravated circumstances, attempted murder and murder.

Reading out her Victim Impact Statement (VIS) to a full courthouse, Keira broke down on several occasions as she recalled the impact on her life after having lost her father.

‘My dad was a family man. He loved nothing more than to have his family over for lunch or to be surrounded by family during a holiday. Every day without him is tough.

‘Almost every day I have something small I want to ask him or get his advice on.’
Keira said she had fallen into a state of depression after her father’s death.

‘I was working in Thailand at the time when I got the call from my estranged mother, informing me that my dad had been killed.

‘After his funeral I returned to Thailand and fell into depression.

‘I had to see a number of psychologists and counsellors who put me on anti-depressants,’ she said.

ALSO READ: BREAKING NEWS: Inyoni farmer murdered

While Cele and Madikane remained with their faces down throughout Keira’s statement, Zulu looked deeply towards Keira, shifting his focus to the floor at every odd glance.

Kiera said her father, ironically, was passionate about the rehabilitation of prisoners – a submission that was put forward to the court earlier that morning when Zulu’s defense attorney, Maggie Pillay, noted that he could be a suitable candidate for rehabilitation and a productive member of society as he is a first time offender with no previous convictions.

‘He believed that criminals needed love and comfort. If only the accused had met him in different circumstances,’ she said.

Previous convictions

Earlier that morning prosecutor JM Khathi started proceedings by informing the court of Cele and Madikane’s previous convictions.

Madikane’s defense attorney, SC Singh, raised personal circumstances as a reason as to why the court should consider a wholly suspended sentence for his client.

Cele was then called to the stand, during which time her defense attorney, AS Seedat, urged the court to take into consideration that Cele had been incarcerated since 2015 and respectfully submitted that the court be lenient with its sentencing.

Judge Masipa adjourned the case to 13 July for sentencing and the three accused will remain in custody until then.

ALSO READ: UPDATE: Two arrested for Nyoni farm murder

Johnson died in a hail of bullets while his brother Ian (54) was shot in the face and leg during an armed robbery on their farm on 2 June 2015.

Investigating officers, Lieutenant Colonel Bruwer and her partner Constable Naicker from the KwaDukuza SAPS, worked quickly and obtained information via informants about the suspects.

All three accused were arrested a few days after the incident..


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Orrin Singh

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