Widow locked in torched home by killers…
5 August 2011 Leave a comment
After husband Piet was shot dead, Madeleine Van den Berg was stabbed in the arm, locked in a cupboard; and told to ”make your last wish, we are going to burn your house down’… ‘then she heard the lighter click’, she testified in Pretoria High Court…
Madelein, 61, widow of murdered Cullinan smallholder Piet van Den Berg, testified in Pretoria High Court that ‘her life and 40-year-marriage with a very good, kind man were destroyed’ on Saturday-morning 11 July 2009. http://bit.ly/oUrR5M
That day, her husband was shot dead and their home at Boekenhoutkloof smallholdings near Cullinan set alight. She had been locked inside a cupboard and told by black South African male suspect Mphanyana Given Kanyane : ”make your last wish, we are going to burn your house down’. And then she heard the lighter click… she said. She managed to escape: but was physically unable to drag her murdered husband’s body from the inferno.
PICTURE: Mrs Madeleine van den Berg, flanked by daughters Ilze Theologo, left and Teresa Stander right. All three women wept bitterly during the first day of the trial at the Pretoria High Court. Picture by Beeld photographer Matthew Brewer
PICTURE: The Van den Berg family belongings stacked outside where neighbours rescued them from the couple’s torched home July 11, 2009 Cullinan farm. Pic: Cornél van Heerden. Beeld newspaper headlined the story with: “ He will die for not cooperating’ :
Three black South African males on trial deny everything – however the widow identified them ‘very positively’ in court yesterday. On trial are three black South African males: Mduduzi Sbusiso Hlengethwa, Mphanyana Given Kanyane and Wonder Mbongezini Makwakwa. They denied murdering Mr Piet van den Berg, 64 and torching the family homestead at Boekenhoutkloof near Cullinan.
However Mrs Van den Berg unhesitatingly pointed out these three men as the attackers. She saw them from very up close. “These three men,” she said, broke into their home that Saturday-morning, and ‘held her husband at knifepoint in the dining room of their home’. She and her husband then were forced to lie down on their bed. Their hands were tied up. She testified that the accused man she described as ‘tall and very aggressive”, and identified in the court as the suspect Mphanyana Given Kanyane, “was the man handling the firearms’. She testified that her husband said to her: ‘Mama, just give them everything they want.’
He was told by Kanyane ‘to show him where his watch was located in the living room.’ Her husband walked out with Kanyane. Then he was shot dead. She said Kanyane then stormed back into the bedroom and pointed a firearm at her. He told her: “The old man will die today because he won’t cooperate”.
Kanyane started throwing her shoes from the cupboard and ordered her to ‘give a couple to my wife,’ she testified. Then she was ordered to fetch the wash-room keys by Kanyane and when she walked through the hallway she saw her husband lying there: at that point he was ‘opening and closing his eyes’, she said. When she walked back to the bedroom the ‘short one’, identified in the curt as Wonder Mbongezini Makwakwa, cut her with a steak-knife on an arm. Her hands were still tied up when she was ordered to unlock their registered safe. It was Mduduzi Sbusiso Hlengethwa, the third suspect, who then packed items into a shopping bag, she testified. Kanyane also threatened that ‘all of them would rape her if she did not cooperate’.
Makwakwa then dressed himself in her husband’s blue suit, with a vest underneath, and pulled on one of her husband’s shoes. When she was ordered to find the other shoe, the men pushed her into the main bedroom’s cupboard and locked it from the outside. She heard them ‘scratching around in another cupboard’ from which four of her rings had disappeared. Speaking to her from outside the cupboard, she then heard Kanyane’s voice asking her ‘what her last wish would be’. She testified that she wanted to reply: ‘I want to go to heaven’. However he then told her he was going to torch the home. She heard a lighter go ‘click’ and heard the three go out through the back door. The injured woman frantically started kicking around inside the cupboard to get out and had a hard struggle but eventually managed it. She testified promising herself while she struggled: “Lord I will not be burnt to death here’.
The fire was already flaring up on the bed and which she managed to put out. A large pile of burning papers were also located next to her husband’s body. And a fire was also set in another bedroom. She desperately tried to drag her husband’s body from the house but was unable to. She then jumped in their bakkie and chased to a neighbour’s house. He and his workers then went to the house to try and get all their belongings out of the house. They watched the house burn out (picture). The trial continues. http://www.beeld.com/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/Hy-sal-sterf-oor-hy-nie-saamwerk-20110803