Murder accused Desmond Cornelius Vries, 32, yesterday told the court a totally different story than what emanated so far from state witnesses in his trial before Acting Judge Boas Usiku in the Windhoek High Court.
During his examination in chief by his state-funded lawyer, Milton Engelbrecht, he said that nothing the state witnesses – six of them – said was the truth.
He is accused of killing six-year-old Curtus Shille van der Westhuizen by hitting him, kicking him and/or strangling him while the child was in his care. He also faces two charges of assault by threat by allegedly threatening to kill Florencia Florida Piete on two separate occasions.
On the claim by the state witnesses there was no animosity between them and Vries, and they played a friendly game of dominoes on the day of the incident, Vries said he had not forgiven them for an attack on him the previous Monday.
“They asked me for forgiveness but I told them I cannot forgive them, they must seek forgiveness from the Lord,” Vries told the court. According to him the three witnesses Norberto Hamman, Bernardus Piete and Maria Magdalena (Piete) Hamman assaulted him on that Monday for no reason at all. Maria testified that she found Vries sleeping between his former girlfriend and the mother of the deceased, Clemencia van der Westhuizen, on that Sunday, October 20, 2013 and she called Bernardus and Norberto to remove him from the bedroom.
All three of them denied that Vries was assaulted. Vries, however, insisted that he was kicked in the face by Bernardus and that Norbeto and Maria, respectively, threw a cellphone and shoe at him.
Vries was adamant that he was not on speaking terms with the witnesses and said he was not in their presence on the day in question. He also disputed the evidence of a minor boy who claimed to have witnessesed the murder.
The boy who may not be named testified that Vries called the deceased into the shack where he was staying and started beating him. At one stage, the boy said, Vries put a plastic bag over the head of the deceased and proceeded to fasten it under the neck of the deceased.
He also said that Vries kicked the deceased in the ribs, with safety boots. Vries totally denied the allegations and informed the court that he did not possess safety boots.
According to Vries, on the night in question he arrived home from work at around 17h00 and found the witnesses getting ready for church.
After he refused their apology, Vries said, he went inside the shack he was staying in and remained there until the witnesses left. When he emerged from his shack he saw the three boys playing in the yard and he asked them if they should not go and wash as the next day was school, he said.
The boys refused and said they still wanted to play, Vries told the court. An old man then came to the yard asking for water, Vries said.
While he and the old man were talking the boys came from behind the house and started to throw sand on the old man, Vries said, and continued that he then took off his sandal and whacked the boys on the backside after which he went to another shack in the same yard to watch some TV.
Shortly after the 20h00 news bulletin, he emerged from watching TV and saw the boys were still playing and he once again asked them if they should not go and wash and the deceased told him he was waiting for his mother to wash him. That was the last time he laid eyes on the boys, Vries said.
According to him he then went to bed and the next thing he knew was the police waking him up and telling him the victim was killed. He denied having anything to do with the death of the deceased.
Vries further denied that he threatened to kill Florencia Piete, his ex-girlfriend, on two occassions, and totally denied any knowledge of either pointing at his wrist and then across his throat or of telling another state witness, Maria Esau, that Florencia will die before the sun sets. He further denied telling three state witnesses ‘Babas sal sien, sy sal huil’, meaning Babas will see, she will cry, referring to Van Der Westhuizen.
He will be cross-examined by State Advocate Simba Nduna today.
Vries is also suspected of the robbery and murder of Karasburg businessman Tillian Walters earlier this year while he was on bail in this case.
Vries remains in custody on the latter matter.