Accused in Sandra Munsamy 'kidnapping' claims he's being forced to plead guilty
One of the four men charged with the high-profile, multimillion-rand kidnapping of Durban businesswoman Sandra Munsamy claims he has been emotionally abused and forced by his co-accused to plead guilty.
This emerged when the fourth accused in the matter, a 35-year-old Mozambican from the Msholozi area, near KwaMhlanga in Mpumalanga, gave evidence in the Durban magistrate's court on Tuesday.
The matter had been set down for a bail application in respect of accused three and four.
The Hawks previously made an application to bar the media from identifying or photographing the accused due to the sensitive nature of the case.
TimesLIVE reported that accused one and three are South Africans, and accused two and four are Mozambicans. None have been named.
They face charges related to kidnapping, attempted murder, extortion, robbery with aggravated circumstances and entering and remaining in the country without a valid permit, a count which is expected to be dropped against the two South Africans after investigators are understood to have verified their citizenship.
Munsamy, a key figure in the multibillion-rand Xmoor Transport family business empire, was allegedly kidnapped by armed men, setting in motion a hostage and ransom drama that spanned six months. Hawks detectives found the businesswoman alive and shackled in a house in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, in November, 162 days after she disappeared.
The Hawks said her captors had demanded a ransom of R140m.
Accused number four's attorney, Thobile Sigcau, deposed an affidavit on behalf of his client which highlighted why he should be granted bail.
Reading the contents into the record, Sigcau said his client lived at a home in the Msholozi area with his mother and girlfriend and had three minor children.
The court heard he was self-employed and building houses to make a living to support his family, that he had no previous convictions and intended to plead not guilty.
He said on October 24 2019 that he had been contacted by accused number three and told to bring his CV and come to an area in Emalahleni (Witbank) where he would get R10,000 for construction work. He said accused three had a funeral tent business, that he had known him for more than a year and had done work for him in the past. He also alleged that he and accused three lived on the same road in Msholozi.
"I borrowed R50 and caught a taxi on October 25 to Witbank."
He said he arrived at a home in Witbank excited at the prospect of getting a job that would pay so well.
He alleged that accused three told him they were there to guard an Indian lady whose family "owes his boss money".
"I wanted to go but accused three said I couldn't leave. I was arrested on November 7," the affidavit read.
In a twist of events, Sigcau then called his client to take the stand and prompted him to tell the court what happened while he was being detained in prison.
"My co-accused are abusing me emotionally, forcing me to plead guilty to the charges since I was the one found inside the house. They said if I do not instruct Mr Mxolisi Nxasana (accused one and three's attorney) as my attorney, they are going to change my statement to say I am their boss and I gave them instructions about what to do," he claimed.
He went on to finger accused three as the key figure in the hostage situation that played out in Witbank while he was being cross-examined by state prosecutor Kuveshnie Pillay and Nxasana.
He requested that he be detained in isolation at Ebongweni C-Max prison in Kokstad, as opposed to sharing a cell with his co-accused.
Earlier, accused three's attorney, Nxasana, who is the former head of the national directorate of public prosecutions, said his client, a 39-year-old man, had no previous convictions.
His client denied having anything to do with the case and said nothing was recovered from him during his time of arrest.
"In October 2019 I received a call from a friend who told me I needed to come to Witbank as he had found me a job. I left home in my wife's bakkie and went to meet my friend. When I arrived I was taken to a house and arrested," the man said in an affidavit, deposed on Nxasana.
He alleged that police brutally assaulted him despite his co-operation during the arrest.
The man, who is married and has four sons aged 18, 15, 11 and two, claimed the state had no evidence to suggest he was in Durban on May 30 2019, when Munsamy was kidnapped from her black Range Rover after being "forced off the road" by three vehicles on the M13 off-ramp on Stapleton Road in Pinetown around 6.30pm.
He claimed he had strong family ties and would not leave his family should he be granted bail. He said he could afford R5,000.
Magistrate Anand Maharaj postponed the matter to August 18, when the state is expected to call on Hawks investigating officer Stompie Sonnekus to lead evidence and provide reasons why bail should be denied.
Maharaj granted accused four's request to be detained in isolation.
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