WINDHOEK - The only female accused in the murder and robbery of elderly farmer Willem Cornelius de Klerk, aged 71, at farm Villa Rosa in the Usakos district, yesterday denied any wrongdoing in either the murder or the robbery that took place in August 2015.
According to Zelda Harases, she was an unwilling participant in the robbery that took place after De Klerk was already killed.
She told the court yesterday that she was at her place of residence at the farm after her morning chores were done when accused 1, Karel Claasen, arrived and told her that De Klerk wanted to see her.
She told Claasen to wait while she put on her boots and while they were waiting they first heard a gunshot and after a while a second gunshot.
Accused 2, Dion Haraseb, then arrived at the house with the bakkie of the deceased and she and Claasen jumped through the window and she went to hide in the bushes, she told the court.
Asked why they jumped through the window to hide, the accused said she was afraid as she had never before seen Haraseb drive the bakkie of the deceased and she did not know what to expect because of the gunshots she had heard.
However, the witness continued, Haraseb told her to come out and that he would not harm her and Claasen also told her that it was safe and she could come out.
When she came to the house, she saw that Haraseb was carrying a rifle in his hands and he ordered her and Claasen to pack their belongings as they were leaving the farm.
“Accused two then ordered accused one to drive the bakkie to the homestead and on the way there pointed to the kraal and said ‘there lies your boss I killed’,” Harases told the court through a burst of sobs.
She further said that when they arrived at the homestead, Haraseb ordered her to pack some food items from the storeroom and she obeyed out of fear because he had already killed one person. Haraseb and Claasen went into the bedroom of the deceased and returned with a sheet in which they told her to pack the food items and they loaded same onto the bakkie of the deceased. According to the witness, Claasen got into the driver’s seat and told Haraseb that they should leave, but the latter still wanted to see what else he could take from the farm and they then drove off, but the car broke down after a short distance.
She said Claasen went back to the farmhouse and returned after a while with Haraseb and another vehicle of the deceased which they used to jumpstart the bakkie. After that they all returned to the farmhouse and Claasen and Haraseb proceeded to transfer the stolen items to a refrigerated truck belonging to the deceased and they all left the farm.
She informed the court that at the entrance to Usakos, Haraseb ordered Claasen to stop the truck for them to get off and he drove off after they removed their belongings.
According to Harases, she never wanted to participate in any of the happenings on the farm and only went along because Haraseb was armed and she was afraid. She testified that immediately on her arrival at her parents’ house in Windhoek, she relayed what had happened on the farm to her mother who informed her father who took them to a police officer he knew where she spilled the beans.
Claasen, Haraseb and Harases are facing a charge of murder; two counts of housebreaking with intent to steal and robbery with aggravating circumstances; a count of robbery with aggravating circumstances; use of motor vehicle without the owner’s consent; attempting to or obstructing the course of justice; possession of firearms without a licence and possession of ammunition.
Government-sponsored defence lawyers Illeni Gebhardt, Mbanga Siyomunji and Mese Tjituri are representing Haraseb, Claasen and Harases respectively.