Judgment under way in Verulam couple’s farm murder trial

Dhir Roy Singh, left, and Kallawathie Beekarie.

Dhir Roy Singh, left, and Kallawathie Beekarie.

Published Oct 12, 2023


Durban — The Durban High Court continued with the reading of the judgment of three men charged with the 2018 farm murder of a Verulam couple on Thursday.

On Wednesday Judge Carol Sibiya began going through the evidence that had been presented before the court during the course of the trial.

Thobelani Manqele, 25, Sphiwe Shezi, 23 and 21-year-old Ndawo Ndlovu are alleged to have broken into the Cottonlands Farm home of Dhir ‘Roy’ Singh, 68, and Kallawathie Beekarie, 65, on September 2, 2018, and killed the couple during a home robbery.

Singh was stabbed several times with a spear on the neck and chest while Beekarie was forced into the bathroom tub, her hands tied behind her back, forced to kneel and strangled with cables.

Their bodies were found in the locked bathroom of their home.

Several items were allegedly stolen from the couple’s home, including a green Toyota Conquest, cellphones, TV, Hi-Fi, pellet rifle and a microwave.

In her judgment, Judge Sibiya said that Initially there were five accused. However, the State withdrew charges against the first two and the charge sheet was amended to list the three accused before court.

Siyabonga Emmanuel Nhlengethwa and Bonginkosi “Freedom” Mkhize, who had charges against them withdrawn, became section 204 State witnesses in the trial.

Manqele, Shezi and Ndlovu face charges of housebreaking with the intent to rob, robbery with aggravating circumstances and two counts of murder.

“The erstwhile accused had been charged with theft and accessory to murder after the fact and these were withdrawn. All three accused on trial pleaded not guilty with no plea explanation.

”It was explained to accused 3 (Ndlovu) that the minimum applicable sentence would not apply to him as he was 15 years old at the time of the commission of the alleged offence,” said Judge Sibiya.

At the beginning of the trial, senior State Advocate Khatija Essack indicated that the State would rely on the section 204 witnesses, an eye witness, and a confession, adding that two of the accused were linked to the crime by fingerprints.

Manqele, during the trial, denied making this confession, saying it was done under duress which then saw a trial within a trial unfold. However, the court found that the confession was admissible as evidence.

Judge Sibiya, in her judgment was going through the evidence of each witness who took the stand. This included the 204 witnesses who detailed how they had fetched the three accused from the Cottonlands home after Manqele had called saying that he had car problems.

Mkhize said on arrival Manqele asked him to drive the Conquest but it was Shezi who handed him the keys and items in the boot of the vehicle were put in the Avanza that he had arrived in with Nhlengethwa.

Mkhize said that the Conquest was left at his home in Phoenix and they all proceeded to a tavern where they drank.

He said while drinking, Manqele asked that they go back to Cottonlands where he worked to fetch his things.

“The witness said that accused two (Shezi) produced keys to open the gate and house. He said items on the veranda were removed and placed in the Avanza… He said that they went to his home and carried on drinking…

“He heard accused one (Manqele) and two (Shezi) argue over money. Then accused one said to accused three (Ndlovu) that he should not have stabbed the old man. He said that he chased them away and the umbrella and hi-fi were left at his home,” said Sibiya.

The judge continued with her judgment. The state, in total, had 11 witnesses in the matter and Judge Sibiya is currently going through the evidence of the State’s ninth witness.

WhatsApp your views on this story at 071 485 7995.

Daily News