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Woman tells of robbery ordeal

ACCUSED: Skikombisa Shiviti.

KIMBERLEY businesswoman and diamond dealer, Antonella Florio-Poone, has described the incident where she was robbed at gunpoint of diamonds, cash and jewellery worth more than R1 million at her home in Monument Heights in June, 2014.

Skikombisa Shiviti stands accused of aggravated robbery, after allegedly robbing Florio-Poone at gunpoint of R20 000 cash, diamonds to the value of R100 000 and watches to the value of R1 million. Charges were withdrawn against a further three accused in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

The State on Friday opened its case against Shiviti by calling Florio-Poone, the owner of Florio-Poone Diamonds, as its first witness, after Shiviti pleaded not guilty to the charge and denied being involved in the robbery or being at the scene of the crime on the day of the robbery.

Shiviti further stated that he had never met Florio-Poone and denied pointing a firearm at her.

After being called as a witness, Florio-Poone described how she was “packed and ready to go on holiday” on the day of the incident, and that her two children and housekeepers were already in the car when she received a call from a man who said that he had a 12-carat diamond to sell to her.

“I told the man that I was about to leave and if he wanted to come, he should do so quickly. He then said that he was already at the gate. I walked out and saw two men and they both introduced themselves as ‘John’. I let them into my home office.

“The accused (Shiviti) sat across from me at a desk, while the other man opened a bag. I thought he was going to produce a diamond permit and identification but he instead pulled out a gun and cocked it. He then gave a pair of gloves to the accused, which he put on and then pulled a gun out of his jacket. They pointed the two firearms at me and said, ‘we want the money and the diamonds’,” Florio-Poone stated.

She stated that she then begged the two men not to hurt her and said that she would give them what they wanted. She said that she led them to R20 000 cash that she had at the home, while they pointed the firearms at her and also tied her hands behind her back with Sellotape.

“After the accused put the money in his pocket he said that they also wanted diamonds and jewellery and if I did not co-operate they would fetch my two children from the car. I told them to please leave my children and that I would give them what they wanted. We then went to the main bedroom, where the diamonds were hidden, and they tied my arms behind my back while still pointing the guns to my head.

“While they took the diamonds and a collection of designer watches belonging to my husband, they told me the reason they were doing this was because my husband ‘crooked’ them during a (business) deal in Lesotho,” Florio-Poone testified.

She said that the men then forced her to sit in the bath and taped her mouth and legs and left her there.

“I was praying the whole time. I eventually managed to free my hands. The house sounded quiet and I went into the bedroom, where I found the accused pulling out the hard drive of the CCTV. When they saw me they told me that I was ‘naughty’. They then asked me to open the front gate of the house and tied me up with a belt and left me in the bathroom again. However, this time they closed the Trellidor and took the key.

“While I was in the bathroom, I screamed ‘help me, help me” but no one could hear me. After about 15 minutes the housekeeper came to look for me and I told her that I had been robbed. I was crying and nervous,” she said.

The police then arrived on the scene.

Florio-Poone went on to describe how she identified Shiviti during an identity parade in October, 2014.

“I identified him, out of a group of about 10 men, in less than two minutes. It was such a traumatic experience, I can still see his face in front of me when I close my eyes. I can’t forget a face and would have identified him, even if it was out of 100 men,” she said.

The trial is expected to continue next month in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court .