April 15 2010 at 01:01PM
By Irene Kuppan
Her voice barely above a whisper, an elderly and frail woman told the Durban High Court yesterday of her recollection of the day her son was murdered as he tried to help his father.
Marjorie Johnson was testifying at the trial of two men accused of killing her son, Michael, at their Manor Gardens home in June last year.
She had to be helped into a chair in the witness box and her voice barely carried to Judge Jerome Mnguni and his two assessors.
Johnson was moved to a seat closer to the prosecutor and defence lawyers, and Mnguni and his assessors left the Bench and took up seats directly in front of her as she and her husband, David, 75, testified at the start of the trial.
In the dock were two Mozambican nationals – Emmanuel Phutuphutu Magwagwa, 21, and 25-year-old Mfanafuthi France Sithoye – who face a murder charge.
They have also been charged with the attempted murder of his father, who was stabbed, and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
They allegedly took R3 000, a cellphone and watches from the Johnsons’ home.
The trial was scheduled to start later this year, but was brought ahead so that the Johnsons could testify before they emigrated to the United Kingdom.
According to the indictment, Michael, a former policeman, was stabbed when he went to the assistance of his father, who had called out for help after being attacked by two men.
David Johnson told the court he was walking his dogs on the morning of June 17 when he saw two men walk by.
He recalled that he said “hello” to them and they returned his greeting.
The men appeared to walk past him, he said, but as he closed a gate, they grabbed him around the throat and pushed him towards his house.
“I tried to pull their hands off my throat, but was unable to.
“They pulled me along the cement to the house. They were dragging me.”
He told the court the men took him into the house and demanded cellphones and money.
“They hit me on the head with something and I went down. I then shouted for my son. I said, ‘Help, son, help,’ three times. They stuck knives in me,” Johnson said.
He told the court he was stabbed in his neck.
“I was pouring blood all over the place. I was rather weak.”
He said while one of the men stayed with him, another went to the other room.
When the man returned, he was tied up, and instructed not to move or he would be killed.
He later managed to untie himself and when he went into the lounge, he saw Michael lying on the floor, badly injured, the court heard.
Johnson said his son asked to be taken to hospital, and after making sure his wife had not been hurt, he went to a neighbour’s house for help.
“When I got back again he was already dead.
“He must have died quite quickly.”
Marjorie Johnson told the court she was asleep in the bedroom when she heard a “tremendous commotion” and the shuffling of papers in the bedroom.
She heard shouting and barking but did not see anyone in the house. She said the R3 000 that was taken was kept in a drawer in the bedroom.
After the couple testified, the trial was adjourned to July 12, when it is expected to continue in the Scottburgh High Court.
This article was originally published on page 5 of Daily News on April 15, 2010