Durban – An Estcourt woman has recounted how she found her neighbour beaten and burnt outside her home, allegedly by a man who had robbed her of her cellphone.
Purity Sithole, of Loskop in Estcourt, testified on Monday in the trial of Sicelo Xaba, 34, who is charged with the vicious murder of a local woman, Goodness Khanyile, who was beaten with a knobkierie and then set alight.
Sithole told the Pietermaritzburg High Court that on February 22 last year, she was at home when her nephew told her there was a woman outside who needed an ambulance.
When she went to investigate, she was shocked to discover it was her neighbour, Khanyile.
“I found her sitting on the road, crying with her hands raised in the air. She was naked, and she was screaming that she was burning and blood was running down her face,” Sithole said.
The woman said she asked Khanyile what had happened to her, and she replied that one Sicelo Xaba had attacked her with a knobkierie and then poured petrol on her and set her alight.
“She told me she managed to run away from him. I did not know who this Sicelo Xaba was, I had not heard of him,” Sithole said. She said she called for an ambulance and covered Khanyile with a blanket until paramedics arrived.
She then accompanied Khanyile to Estcourt Hospital, where the injured woman later died because of the severity of her burns and wounds.
Xaba on Monday pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances, denying all knowledge of the crimes.
The State alleges that it was a premeditated murder, and prosecutor Dorian Paver submitted in his opening address that the State would lead evidence of four witnesses, which included Sithole, as well as a paramedic and two police members, who would testify that Khanyile, before she died, identified Xaba as the man who attacked her.
According to the state, Khanyile was walking in the Loskop area with her boyfriend, Mbuso Ngubane, when they were approached by Xaba and an unknown cohort. The men struck the couple with knobkieries, but Ngubane escaped.
Xaba is alleged to have hit Khanyile over the head with the knobkierie and then poured petrol on her before setting her alight. He fled with her Nokia cellphone, which was later recovered from a person who is “connected” to Xaba.