‘Attacker’ recognised in court

Hankey accused now linked to another break-in

Residents from Hankey and surrounding areas march to the Hankey Magistrate’s Court where a man appeared after the attack of a woman in her home last month
Residents from Hankey and surrounding areas march to the Hankey Magistrate’s Court where a man appeared after the attack of a woman in her home last month
Image: Eugene Coetzee

In a bizarre twist, a woman sitting in the public gallery of the Hankey Magistrate’s Court to support another woman who was viciously attacked last month, identified the accused as the same man who had allegedly assaulted her.

The suspect, 32, who cannot be named until he has pleaded, hung his head yesterday after Doris Mketshani, 45, identified him to court officials as the man who had allegedly attacked her in February.

The man already faces charges of rape, four counts of attempted murder, four charges of kidnapping, house robbery, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition as well as theft and aggravated robbery.

He was arrested last month near the Lesotho border for the attack on a 44-year-old Eastern Cape businesswoman and her three children inside their farmhouse late on March 23.

The woman is not being identified due to the nature of the attack.

Speaking to The Herald after the matter was postponed to May 10 for further investigation, Mketshani said: “At that moment the lord kept me calm.”

According to Mketshani, a man entered her house, wielding a knife, on the morning of February 6 and demanded a firearm.

“I was sleeping in my house when he walked in and woke me up and told me to give him the gun. We then went to the bedroom and I told him to look for it because I didn’t know where my husband had put it.”

The man then allegedly demanded money from Mketshani.

“I told him I only had R200 and he asked me what must he do with only R200.”

The pair then allegedly tussled over the knife before Mketshani managed to get it away from him – injuring her hand and leg in the process.

He ran away.

The incident last month saw a lone attacker enter a house by firing several shots through a glass door, wounding the 44-year-old mother in the lower back while she was trying to shield her children.

He then took the woman in her vehicle to an ATM to withdraw cash.

She then managed to escape. She was allegedly raped during the ordeal.

Meanwhile, growing community support against crime in the Hankey area saw about 150 people gather at the town’s satellite fire station to march to the magistrate’s court.

There they handed over a petition to the magistrate hearing the case, Una Rens, calling for improved safety in the area and to ask the court not to grant the man bail.

Hankey Neighbourhood Watch chairman Carel Versfeld, 63, who organised the march, said crime in the area was on the rise.

“It is very concerning. We as a community have to come together to show our support and to call upon the courts to impose stronger sentences,” Versfeld said.

Eastern Cape Security Network member Dave Phelan said there was a major crime problem in the area.

“We are currently busy with an emergency plan to create awareness and to combat crime in the area,” Phelan said.

Farmworker Jessica Ntose, 49, said the March attack was too close to home.

“She is a woman just like any of us – it breaks my heart.

“Something needs to be done because tomorrow it could be me or my children,” Ntose said.

Maria Windvogel, 49, said she joined the march because there needed to be more awareness about crime.

“I am here to show my support because nothing like this has happened here before – it is shocking. We all feel unsafe now,” Windvogel said.

Before the case was heard, Rens along with prosecutor Jeanne le Bron stepped outside the court to accepted the petition.

“I cannot read this [petition] as I must remain objective in the case,” she said before handing the document over to Le Bron.

Rens told the crowd the document could form part of the state’s case and might be used as evidence.

Police spokeswoman Captain Gerda Swart said police were investigating Mketshani’s case.

“I can confirm we will be investigating the matter and taking statements. We will then be able to determine if the cases needed be joined,” Swart said.

Last week, Port Elizabeth’s deputy director of public prosecutions Advocate Indra Goberdan said her office had seen the docket from the March incident, adding that her prosecutors were working with detectives on the case.

A decision had not yet been taken on where the accused would be prosecuted.

Goberdan said the charges included schedule 6 offences which carried a sentence of life imprisonment that could see the case transferred to the Port Elizabeth High Court.