Refilwe 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 NEIGHBOUR of the late Refilwe Letebele, who was stabbed several times and had her throat slit, allegedly by her former boyfriend, testified in court on Tuesday about finding her lying motionless in the passage of her home after he heard the domestic worker calling for help.
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, who has been charged with her murder, continued in the Northern Cape High Court on Tuesday.
Gxwati allegedly stabbed her several times and slit her throat before stabbing himself 16 times as well as cutting his own throat, which left him hospitalised for almost a week.
According to Letebele’s neighbour, Bismarck Francis, he went to her house after hearing the domestic worker, Gladys, screaming for help.
Francis referred to Letebele as Fifi.
“It was about 7.30am. As I came out of my house I saw Gladys come out of Fifi’s (Letebele’s) house. Gladys was screaming ‘help, help’. I thought that something might have happened with the older sister because she was sickly and bedridden. Before I went to Gladys, I screamed to my wife, who was inside our house, that there was a problem next door. When I came into the yard, Gladys was still outside the house. I followed her inside the house and I saw Fifi lying on the floor in the passage. Fifi was lying on her stomach with her arms out in front of her,” Francis told the court.
He added that he also noticed Letebele’s cousin and Gxwati inside the house close to where she was lying.
“I saw Sechaba (the cousin) by Fifi and he was calling her name. I looked in the passage and saw Siya. I noticed that there was blood on the floor to the right side of Fifi. Sechaba and I were calling her name but there was no response. As I looked at Siya I noticed that he had a knife. I told Sechaba that he must move to my right-hand side and also told Gladys to stand behind me. Fifi was lying between us and Siya. I told Siya to remain standing where he was. I then went outside.”
Francis said he ran to his house to tell his wife to contact the authorities and emergency medical services.
“At that time my wife was in our yard outside of our house. I told her to call an ambulance and the police. I told her Fifi had been stabbed,” he said.
Francis said he went back into Letebele’s home and phoned her mother.
“I called Fifi’s mom and told her to come home as Fifi had been stabbed. At that time Siya was still standing in the same spot. I was focussed on where Fifi was lying and again called out her name but she did not respond. Sechaba was standing by the side and he was holding a small kitchen knife. I went to him and told him to put the knife on a table. He did as he was told and then came back to me.”
Francis said that when Letebele’s mother (Joyce) arrived home she tried to resuscitate her daughter.
“Fifi’s mom came inside the house and shouted ‘my child, my child’. At that moment Siya went into the bathroom. I did not know of any way to assist Fifi, I did not want to move her. Her mother went straight to Fifi and asked where he, referring to Siya, was. I told her that Siya went inside the bathroom. Joyce then asked me to help her turn Fifi on her back. She then tried to resuscitate Fifi.”
He said that the police then arrived at the scene.
“The police asked where Siya was. He was still inside the bathroom and I told them that. The police instructed me to go home and I asked Sechaba to come home with me,” said Francis.
An emergency medical services (EMS) employee from Emer-G-Med,Talita Swanepoel, testified that they found Gxwati standing at a police vehicle when they arrived at the scene.
Swanepoel said that she observed that Gxwati had blood on his T-shirt and a wound to his neck.
“The accused was standing outside the police van and he was standing there until I loaded him inside the ambulance. The accused had three small laceration wounds, around 8cm long, to his neck. The accused also had 16 stab wounds in his chest – in both the left and right side. There was no active bleeding from the wound to the neck,” said Swanepoel.
She added that the neck wound was not a serious injury.
“The wound to the neck was not serious. The other 16 stab wounds to the chest could have developed into serious wounds over time. I could not tell how deep the chest wounds were but chest wounds normally develop into serious injuries over time.”
She agreed with the defence when it was put to her that according to the J88 form the stab wounds resulted in a collapsed lung.
“The collapsed lung, however, does not mean that one has to be stabbed through the lung in order for it to collapse, it can be due to a stabbing through the chest cavity,” said Swanepoel.
The trial continues and the accused remains out on bail.