Two men, accused of murdering and robbing an elderly Swakopmund couple in 2017, pleaded not guilty to six counts in the Windhoek High Court last week before Judge Christie Liebenberg.
Simon Shidute Jerobeam (26) and Fabian Hipukuluka Tange-Omwene Lazarus answered not guilty after prosecutor Marthino Olivier read out the charges they face.
Jerobeam’s legal aid lawyer Tuna Nhinda confirmed the pleas and told the court his client admits he was at the crime scene on the day in question, but that it was only to steal money and that nobody was supposed to be hurt.
He also admitted he stole a camera lens, but denied breaking into the house, saying the door was open.
Lazarus, through his state-funded lawyer Milton Engelbrecht, informed the court he is making use of his constitutionally guaranteed right to remain silent and put the onus on the State to prove each and every allegation against him.
They are charged with two murder counts, a count of housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery, theft, conspiracy to commit housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery with aggravating circumstances and/or murder and defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.
It is alleged by the State that they broke into the house of 81-year-old Siegfried and 79-year old Sieglinde Strzelecki in Swakopmund with the aim to rob the elderly couple – and in the process, killed Sieglinde by strangulation and caused Siegfried to die eight days later in a frail care home.
One of the first people on the scene, Johan Pieterse, told the court about the events that unfolded on that fateful day.
According to him, he was a site supervisor at a construction site next to the house of the victims.
On 2 August 2017, he was at the site at around 07h00 in the morning as usual.
He further said that he and a colleague were discussing work in his office when one of his workers came calling him, saying the “uncle” is downstairs.
According to him, although he did not know the Strzeleckis personally; he knew about them, as he saw them frequently.
Pieterse said, when he approached the elderly man, he saw that he was dressed in his underpants, a T-shirt and socks only, and that he had blood on him.
“I asked him if there is anything I could do for him and he mumbled something. I again asked him if I could call someone for him or could do something and he then said to me in Afrikaans “Seun, jy verstaan my verkeerd; ons is oorval”, meaning: Sonny, you misunderstood me; we were overpowered,” Pieterse told the court.
He went on to say that he then asked his colleague to call someone and he accompanied the “uncle” inside his residence.
He further said that inside the house, in the scullery, they found the body of Sieglinde lying on her stomach in a pool of blood. In order to see if he could see her, Pieterse said, he then turned the lady on her back and saw that her mouth and nose were bound with box tape and her neck with nylon rope.
“The rope was so tight around her neck that I could not get my fingers between the rope and the woman’s neck”, he said, adding that he then asked the “uncle” to hand him scissors or a knife to cut the rope and the tape.
After the “uncle” handed him a pair of scissors, he cut the tape from her face and the rope from her neck and started CPR, Pieterse told the court.
He further said that when he pressed on her chest, a gagging sound escape from her mouth – but when he checked for a pulse, he could not find one. He then told the “uncle” they were too late and took him to the sitting room, where he made him sit on a couch, Pieterse informed the court.
Thereafter, he called for help – and while he was busy, the son-in-law of the Strzeleckis arrived, Pieterse concluded his testimony.