Home News Hartswater murder accused were struggling financially

Hartswater murder accused were struggling financially

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An accused charged with the abduction and murders of the Brand family near Hartswater stated that he sold the laptops and cellphones that were found inside a vehicle that was stolen from their smallholding because he wanted to buy nappies for his one-month-old baby.

Tshepo Visagie testified in the Northern Cape High Court this week. Picture: Soraya Crowie

AN ACCUSED charged with the abduction and murders of the Brand family near Hartswater stated that he sold the laptops and cellphones that were found inside a vehicle that was stolen from their smallholding because he wanted to buy nappies for his one-month-old baby.

Danie, 83, Breggie, 73, and Elsabe Brand, 54, were assaulted and killed, while their bodies were left in the veld near Takaneng village and concealed in a cave near a natural spring on July 26, 2020.

The accused – Donald Seolesang, 24, Tshepo Visagie, 40, Kgomotso Mpumlwane, 46, and Tshepaone Melato, 23 – are facing charges of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice.

Visagie claimed that they saw the silver Nissan Micra and red Mazda 5, which were stolen from the smallholding, abandoned in a quarry while he was out hunting in the veld with Seolesang and Melato.

He testified in the Northern Cape High Court that he saw the keys in the ignition of the Mazda as well as three laptops and three cellphones inside the vehicle.

“We took the vehicle so that we could sell the laptops and cellphones in Takaneng, near Taung. The car was big and we did not know where to sell it. My phone was out of airtime and I put the SIM card of one of the cellphones that was found inside the car in my phone.”

He said he was paid R500 for the items.

Visagie added that he was struggling with finances at the time of the incident.

He indicated that he had not used the Nissan Micra as one of the wheels was punctured.

“We drove to areas where people do not usually go. I did not know who the car belonged to.”

He stated that he had decided to wash the Mazda when they returned as the road was dusty.

Visagie denied seeing any blood stains in the vehicle.

He said he later visited a tavern and also went to buy bread, cooldrink and cigarettes.

Visagie denied knowing Mpumlwane and explained that she had requested Seoloseng to use the Mazda to collect her children in Pudimoe.

The legal representative for Melato, Arnold Nel, stated that State witness Realeboga Manyedi related that Visagie had told him that he had needed a bucket to wash the car.

“He also saw him opening the Mazda that was unlocked to retrieve the laptop and cellphones.

“Manyedi saw blood in the boot of the Mazda.”

He indicated that Melato saw two bodies tied up and covered with trees and was shocked when he saw a third body in the boot of the vehicle that was transported to another location.

“He saw Visagie carrying the body.”

State advocate Adele van Heerden pointed out that Visagie’s co-accused looked up to him as he was older than the others and was Seoloseng’s soccer coach.

“Visagie was the one giving the orders and he was the one who decided to sell the laptops and cellphones.”

She believed that the hunting trip was fabricated where it was highly improbable for anyone to stage a robbery or theft, abandon two vehicles in a quarry with the keys still in the ignition and to leave the stolen items inside the car.

Van Heerden questioned how the accused managed to locate the vehicles shortly after it was stolen.

“By that time the bodies of Danie Brand and his daughter Elsabe had already been dropped in the veld. The stolen motor vehicles were used to kidnap the three members of the Brand family and conceal their bodies.

“According to evidence, Breggie’s body was still in the Nissan Micra at the quarry. Manyedi testified that Visagie removed the body from the back seat of the Nissan and placed it in the trunk of the Mazda.”

She added that Visagie, Manyedi and Seoloseng carried the body to the cave where the path is very steep and is not visible from the main road.

She pointed out that Visagie had enlisted the assistance of his sibling (Melato) as a family member was less likely to report him to the authorities.

The case continues before Acting Judge Cordelia Kgopa.

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