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I wrestled with her but I don’t remember stabbing her – murder accused

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Thabang Leonard Moqhobai, 36, is facing a charge of murder after he allegedly stabbed Elsie “Mase” Chabalala seven times in Ritchie on Sunday, October 13, 2019.

Thabang Leonard Moqhobai. Pictures: Danie van der Lith

A MURDER accused told the Northern Cape High Court on Tuesday that he can remember “wrestling” with his girlfriend but he can’t recall whether he stabbed her.

Thabang Leonard Moqhobai, 36, is facing a charge of murder after he allegedly stabbed Elsie “Mase” Chabalala seven times in Ritchie on Sunday, October 13, 2019.

He was arrested close to the murder scene on the day.

Moqhobai and Chabalala met in 2010 and had broken up and gotten back together several times since then. It was revealed in court that they were “recovering” from a break-up that happened three weeks before the fateful day.

Moqhobai and a State witness, Cecil Klaase, who was also involved with Chabalala at the time, shared tearful testimonies on Tuesday of how Chabalala had chosen to stay with Klaase at a family meeting held earlier on the day of the murder.

Klaase, originally from Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, was temporarily in Ritchie for construction work at the time. He revealed during his testimony that he had been with Chabalala for two months before her death.

Moqhobai said he had suspected that there was a third man in Chabalala’s life. He said he had been looking for Chabalala the day before the murder and that she was not with him or with Klaase.

The court had to take breaks in between the testimonies of the two men, who were very emotional.

Moqhobai asked for forgiveness from Chabalala’s family, his family and the community of Ritchie.

He told the court that he could not remember stabbing Chabalala and only recalled wrestling with her.

Chabalala had been trying to stop him from confronting Klaase.

“I don’t remember when and where the stabbing started. All I remember is that we were wrestling, where she wanted to stop me from going back into her yard to confront Klaase,” said Moqhobai sobbing.

“I only came to my senses when I felt something hit me on the shoulder. When I turned around I saw a man looking around for stones. I also heard someone calling me by my nickname. That is when I saw Mase in front of me … and realised that the knife was in my hand.”

Moqhobai said that he had taken the knife from his home when he went to confront Klaase after Chabalala had “dumped” him earlier that day.

“I did not intend to kill anyone,” he told the court.

“After Chabalala dumped me in front of her family, I took Klaase’s hand and congratulated him before leaving her home. I did not want to cause a scene out of respect for her mother.

“I started getting worked up while lying on my bed at my place. I wanted to tell him to leave us alone because he was returning to his home soon, and I would have to fix the mess while he returns to his partner back in the Eastern Cape.

“I also became angry because Chabalala is the one who approached me to fix our relationship, which I agreed to because I believed that we loved each other.

“She made me go and fetch my belongings from the mother of my child as proof that I am committed to our relationship.”

Moqhobai said that he had had an earlier meeting with Klaase that Sunday.

According to Moqhobai, he got Klaase’s contact number from Chabalala’s phone, which he had taken from her home after she “disappeared” and no one seemed to know where she was.

Klaase refuted claims of meeting with Moqhobai before the family meeting and to having agreed to break up with Chabalala.

According to Klaase, he saw Moqhobai for the first time on the day of the incident after Chabalala called him to come to her home.

That is when Chabalala was reportedly made to choose between the two men by her mother.

Moqhobai testified that he was on his way to confront Klaase when he decided to rather “fix things” with Chabalala and leave Klaase out of the matter.

“On my way to Klaase I told myself that ‘this is not who I am’ and changed directions to head to Chabalala’s home.

“I decided not to go closer when I saw her sitting under the veranda with Klaase. I called her and she said she was coming and I waited for her. I called her again and Klaase urged her to go and listen to what I had to say.

“She joined me outside her yard and suggested that we move towards the corner of the street as she complained that we were starting to attract people’s attention.

“I was trying to keep calm when I was talking to her, and she kept on promising me that she will deal with Klaase in her own manner.

“When I asked her about the third man that I suspected she was seeing, she said she was not intimate with any of the other men.

“I then told her that I no longer trusted her and would rather go and deal with Klaase myself. That is when she started pulling me back – trying to stop me from going to Klaase.

“We wrestled because she was trying to stop me.”

Moqhobai said that that was the last thing he could remember about the fight.

He was arrested at a nearby stadium by the police. “I put the knife at the pavilion stairs and waited for the police.

“During the arrest I realised that I have thrown my whole life away.”

The trial continues on Wednesday.

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