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boy watched 'killer' dig grave

By unknown | Aug 21, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

An 11-year-old boy was the first to give evidence in a trial in which a former Vaal University of Technology student is accused of killing and secretly burying the corpse of his teenage girlfriend.

The boy, of Songeni village near Thulamahashe, spoke through a closed circuit television in the Nelspruit circuit of the Pretoria high court during the trial that started yesterday .

The state alleges that Mandla Mathebula, 25, beat to death his girlfriend, Advice Mashaba, before burying her body in a grave at the home of his Hoedspruit-based policeman brother, Inspector Richard Mathebula, on December 26 2006.

Justice Francis Legodi first asked the boy a few questions about himself, apparently to find out if the he was going to be a credible witness.

Legodi appointed a social worker, Pretty Mashego, from Thulamahashe as an intermediary.

Legodi, who was at first under the impression that the witness was a girl, asked him if he wanted to be addressed as "Miss" or by the first name.

After the prosecution had corrected him, Legodi asked if he wanted to be called Mister or by his first name. He preferred his first name.

The Grade 3 pupil, who was nine in 2006, gave a chilling account of how Mathebula went to his grandmother's home and borrowed a shovel that he later used to dig a secret grave in December 2006.

"Mandla walked through the gate when he entered my grandmother's yard but scaled over the fence into his brother's home that is next to my granny's after having borrowed a shovel that he later used to dig under a tree at the brother's home," he said.

The boy, who told the court that he wanted to become a policeman , said he knew how to differentiate between a lie and the truth.

This prompted Legodi to ask him what happened to liars.

"God will punish all those who tell lies," the boy said.

State prosecutor Ester Mnguni asked him if he knew Mandla Mathebula, the accused, and he responded positively.

He said that a few days later he saw the police digging in the same spot where he had seen Mathebula digging.

"They dug and dug and dug," he said.

"They were about to stop but I told them to continue digging because they had not yet found the buried woman's body."

The hearing was adjourned after the boy showed signs of being tired by yawning repeatedly. The trial continues today.


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