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‘I wanted to kill myself in front of her’


Siyanda Gxwati is accused of stabbing and slitting the throat of his former girlfriend, Refilwe “Fifi” Letebele in front of her 13-year-old cousin at her parent’s house in Barkly Road.

Siyanda Gxwati. Picture: Danie van der Lith

A KIMBERLEY man who is accused of stabbing and slitting the throat of his former girlfriend, Refilwe “Fifi” Letebele, told the Northern Cape High Court on Thursday that his plan on the day was to kill himself in front of her.

Letebele, 28, was fatally stabbed in front of her 13-year-old cousin at her parent’s house in Barkly Road in Kimberley on January 12, 2018.

The trial of her former boyfriend, Siyanda Gxwati, 35, who has been charged with her murder, continued in the Northern Cape High Court on Thursday.

Gxwati took to the witness stand on Thursday after the State closed its case.

According to Gxwati, he wanted to kill himself after Letebele told him over the phone that they should break up.

He said that they had been dating since 2013 after they had met at work.

“I met Fifi at work in 2012. We were both employed at the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. I was employed as a senior accountant and Fifi was an intern in finance. We started out as friends and a relationship started developing towards the end of 2013, said Gxwati.

He said their relationship, however, experienced some troubled times.

“We broke up in 2015 at around Easter because I cheated. We were apart for about two weeks but got back together again after we talked and reconciled. There was a time in 2015 that we found out she was pregnant. She miscarried after our break-up. I was very hurt and heartbroken but never showed my emotions as I was concerned about how the incident affected her. I had some problems in our relationship but these never resulted in a break-up. In 2015 was the only time we broke up.”

Gxwati said things started going sour after he returned home to Bloemfontein after he injured his ankle.

“I played rugby for one of the clubs in Kimberley. However, in 2017 I sustained an injury to my ankle while I was playing soccer. I fractured my ankle and was booked off from work. I went back home to Bloemfontein as I was booked off until January 2, 2018. While I was in Bloemfontein things were not good between Fifi and I because of the distance. We were still communicating on the phone but the distance made it difficult for us to get along.

“There was a time in November 2017 when I came to Kimberley from Bloemfontein and we had a quarrel. Fifi had gone to a wedding and requested that we meet after she returned from the wedding. While she was at the wedding, I went to have some drinks. When she returned from the wedding she went to look for me at my place but could not find me as I was not there. She called me but I answered later. I told her I was out drinking. Fifi then told me to come to her house. At her house, we had a quarrel. She asked me why I was drinking so much and not giving her any attention. She was upset and I went back to my place.”

Gxwati said his efforts to make amends the next day did not work out and he had had to return to Bloemfonetin.

He said they met again on December 14, 2017 and all seemed to have been forgiven.

“I again had to return for a check-up with the doctor in December. Fifi came to my house. We spoked and had a nice time. She was not angry at that time. On Sunday I had to return to Bloemfontein and Fifi was also heading to Polokwane.”

He indicated that things were not the same in the New Year.

“On January 1, 2018, Fifi and I met at her house. I had to return to work on January 2, 2018. Things were, however, not the same with us any more. We were talking but something was not right. The relationship was not like before, we seemed distant from each other.

“On January 6, we met at her house. It was her eldest sister’s birthday and she had suggested that we should have a braai. I agreed because it was my birthday just two days afterwards. I spent the day of her sister’s birthday with her but went back to my place later that day. I explained to her that I was looking for a new place to stay and she should assist me in this regard. She told me she was busy that week,” he said.

Gxwati said that things seemed to be back to normal on the day of his birthday.

“On January 8 it was my birthday and I asked her to go out to eat. She accompanied me and everything went fine on the day. After the dinner I dropped her at her house and went back to my place.”

He said there was a huge shift in Letebele’s behaviour towards him after his birthday.

“From Tuesday she became distant. I asked her whether there was a problem but she insisted everything was fine. I saw Fifi on Tuesday when I knocked off from work. I could see from the way she acted that things had changed and whenever I asked to do something, she would refuse to talk to me. From Wednesday, she started to not answer my phone calls. She would answer her phone late and say that she wanted to sleep. She would not respond when I asked her why she did not want to talk to me.”

He said that as the days passed the matter began to weigh heavily on him.

“I kept asking myself why Fifi was not answering my calls. I kept calling her when I was at work on Thursday, January 11, but she again did not answer. When I knocked off from work that day, I drove past her house. When I was outside, I could see she was not there because the car was not parked in the yard. I went home and called her again but she did not pick up. I spoke to her at about 10pm that night after I had called her about six or seven times. She again said she was tired and wanted to sleep. She dropped the phone on me. I called her again and after about 20 minutes she answered.”

Gxwati said it was during this discussion that Letebele told him that they should end things.

“I was so hurt and disappointed. She said it was due to my actions and I was drinking too much. She told me that I should come and pick up my things from her house the next day.”

He said that after some introspection he realised that he was the person in the wrong and that made him feel useless and worthless.

He said he had hoped that the relationship would result in them getting married.

He said that he thought about killing himself.

“I took my phone and searched for ways to kill myself but could not find any. I was not able to sleep that night. I saw a knife in the drawer. I took it and sharpened it against a stone. During that time I thought that if I could talk to Fifi then she would change her mind. I then decided that if she did not change her mind, then I will commit suicide in front of her. As I was sharpening the knife, I was thinking of stabbing myself in the heart in front of Fifi. The next morning, at around 7am, I went to her house,” said Gxwati.

The case continues.

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