KWAZULU-NATAL farmer Murray Hampson gave an emotional and dramatic testimony in the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, saying he stared down the barrel of a gun and saw the gunman squeezing the trigger.
He was recalling the moments before his father was killed in a farm attack in Eston last year.
Hampson described how he was overpowered and robbed of his shotgun by two trespassers on the family farm who used the weapon to kill his father on September 27.
The struggle started on the back of the double-cab bakkie Hampson’s father, Mick (69), was driving.
Hampson testified that they had picked up the trespassers intending to drive back to the farmhouse and report them to the police or Magma security company. He was armed with his father’s shotgun and seated on the tailgate of the bakkie.
En route, one man — whom he described as having a pale complexion — had grabbed the gun. Both men then attacked him and all three of them fell off the back of the bakkie. They continued to fight for possession of the shotgun on the ground. As Hampson got into a crouching position, still hanging onto the shotgun, the man with the pale skin shouted at his companion in Zulu: “Take out the knife and stab him.”
Hampson told the court he’d felt what he thought was the blade of a knife slide against his side under his arm, and had instinctively lashed out with his elbow and fought to get the man off his back.
He lost possession of the shotgun and fell on the ground, lying face up. “I looked up into the barrel of the shotgun,” he said.
Hampson said he saw the pale-skinned assailant standing over him, squeezing the trigger of the shotgun.
Hampson said he jumped up and fled and as he did so he heard a click which he believed was the safety catch of the shotgun being released. “I shouted at my father to drive away and I ran into the sugar cane [fields].”
As he fled he heard the bakkie moving and heard the shotgun fire. “I didn’t know whether he had fired at me or at my father,” he said, adding he’d continued running because he was scared that the men would come after him.
He heard the bakkie’s engine whining and tyres screeching over gravel and rocks and then two bangs, one of which might have been the car tyre bursting.
He was overcome with emotion as he told of subsequently finding his father shot dead in the bakkie.
The court heard that Hampson had identified the alleged assailants at a police identity parade, and that one of them is the accused before court, Jabulani Ngobese.
Ngobese has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and unlawful possession of a firearm arising from the incident.
In a statement, he said his only intention had been to participate in a plan hatched by his former co-accused in the case, Siboniso Mtolo, to steal an Isuzu bakkie from the Hampson’s farm that day but they were overtaken by the events. According to his statement, after they were ordered onto the back of the bakkie, Mtolo had suddenly tried to wrench the shotgun away from Hampson but failed. Mtolo shouted at him to assist in grabbing the gun.
“I then intervened and grabbed the firearm. I wrested the firearm away from the man, and I threw the firearm on the ground. All three of us had fallen off the vehicle. The white man then ran into the cane fields. Accused one [Mtolo] ran alongside the bakkie. I heard a shot go off. I then realised that the driver of the bakkie had been shot by accused one [Mtolo],” he said.
The case is proceeding.