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Murder accused ‘acted strange’

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The Northern Cape High Court heard from several witnesses that rape and murder accused Itumeleng Machabe acted strangely the day before 11-year-old Relebogile Segami was reported missing.

Murder and rape accused Itumeleng Machabe. File picture

THE NORTHERN Cape High Court heard from several witnesses that rape and murder accused Itumeleng Machabe acted strange the day before 11-year-old Relebogile Segami was reported missing.

According to testimony, Machabe was the last person to be seen with Segami before she was killed.

The court also heard that a friend of the deceased was the one who raised the alarm when he told his parents that the accused said that he wanted to make the deceased his woman.

The trial resumed on Monday, February 26 following a postponement in November 2023.

The 11-year-old victim’s body was found dumped behind the Northern Cape Legislature on March 31 2022 after she was reported missing the day before.

Machabe is facing 19 charges ranging from rape, fraud, crimen injuria, attempted extortion, child pornography, attempted murder and murder.

He pleaded not guilty to all 19 charges.

The handicapped mother of the deceased, Shariema Segami, testified how her world collapsed when she learnt that her daughter left with a man who wanted to make her his woman.

She said she was watching TV when the deceased’s older sister arrived home without her sister.

She said her youngest children, including the deceased, knew that they had to be home by 6pm and always made the curfew.

She said she asked the older sister where Relebogile was when they returned home.

“She always arrived home on time, except for that day,” she said.

“When I asked her where Relebogile was, she told me that she was with Bendow (as Machabe was known at the time).

“She said she felt uncomfortable and told the deceased that they should go home. She said her sister refused to go home with her and said the accused promised her R20.

“The sister said she even tried to force the deceased to go home with her but she refused to go.

“She said she left the deceased with another friend.”

The mother testified that she went to the friend’s home and found him sleeping.

“I was shocked to hear from the friend that he had left the deceased with the accused. He told us that she became unsettled when the accused said he wanted to make the deceased his woman.

“The accused told us that he gave my child R20 and left her at a place called Boza gate when he said he was going to buy popcorn at around 12pm.

“If he had left her at Boza gate she would have been able to come home.”

The mother then reported her child missing.

She told the court that after a manhunt was launched to search for her child, the accused volunteered to pick her up at 7am in the morning to take her to the Galeshewe police station.

“Instead, he only arrived at around 10am.”

The aunt and legal guardian of the deceased’s friend testified how nerve-racking it was to learn from her son that he left the deceased in the company of a man who said he wanted to make her his woman.

She said she was surprised when the mother of the deceased arrived at her home just before 9pm, accompanied by her son and several other people.

“She asked me where my son was and I told her that he was sleeping. She asked me whether he was with the deceased and I said no.

“We were all shocked when he told us that he left her with the uncle in the red cap. We asked him whether he was referring to Bendow, and he said yes.”

The aunt told the court that when her son arrived home he did not say anything about the deceased, until they questioned him.

Three of Machabe’s friends, Karabo Sehunelo, Ipeleng Mokhutswane, Ayanda Swaartbooi and Noluthando Willie, told the court that Machabe was acting strange when they met him on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, in Galeshewe.

They said they saw Machabe at Karabo’s home and he acted nervous and was jumpy.

Karabo broke down during her testimony and later told the court that she was too emotional because she could not believe that her friend, Machabe, did what he did.

When she knocked off at 5pm (on March 30, 2022), she said she found Machabe standing with Noluthando and Ipeleng chatting under a tree outside her yard.

“He told me that he had asked to charge his phone, and I went into the house to put my bag away. When I returned I heard him asking the others whether it was noticeable that he was dirty.

“I said no, and he entered the house to fetch his phone before going to the toilet,” Karabo testified.

“From there he went to the tap, then to the fence and looked around, before returning to join us.”

Karabo said her mom called her into the house and Machabe asked for his phone, went to the backyard and looked around, before going out again to check the street and then left.

“He appeared to be nervous, which was unusual to me.”

The defence, advocate Sakkie Nel, asked Karabo whether she ever had an affair with the accused and she said no, they had been friends for a long time.

She was asked whether she knew why Machabe was so concerned about his neatness and replied that the accused explained that he had mud on his shirt because the dogs jumped on him when he went home earlier.

“He said the mud stains, which I didn’t notice, were from the dogs’ paws.”

The defence told the court that the accused was nervous on that day because he did not sleep at home after going on a drinking spree with his friends and was concerned because his parents were strict and had kicked him out.

Nel said he was nervous because his mother and grandmother prevented him from going to their houses because he did not sleep at home.

Karabo said he saw Machabe when he was walking past her home the day before. He showed her a bottle of alcohol he carried in a school bag and said they were going drinking.

Noluthando testified that she had been friends with the accused since they were at high school until 2016.

She admitted that she was in the company of Ipeleng, Karabo and the accused at Karabo’s home in Kagisho on March 30, 2022, just after 5pm.

He said they stopped and spoke but the accused was not himself and looked jumpy and nervous.

“He was jumpy and was constantly looking up and down the street. I asked him where he came from and he said he went out drinking the night before and had sexual intercourse with a girl.

“I noticed some mud stains on his T-shirt and asked him about it. He said it was from the dogs who jumped on him earlier in the day.

“I did not find his explanation convincing because what he said did not make sense to me. According to my observation, the stains were from human hands. It looked like someone dipped their hands in mud and then smeared the top of his chest downwards with an open palm.

“It did not look like paw marks at all.”

A family friend of Machabe, Walter Faykens, confirmed that the accused arrived at his home in John Daka Pase 2 with two minors on March 30, 2022.

Faykens said the accused came to his house at around 10am, asking for food.

“I was excited to see him after such a long time, but felt bad that I did not have food to offer him.”

Faykens told the court that the accused often visited him, but he had not seen him in a while.

“I went into the house to fetch some water. That is when I noticed the children who had been standing next to the house. I only realised later that day that they were with him, and asked him whose children they were.

“He just laughed and I did not make much of it,” Faykens said.

The trial continues.

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