Murder-accused nurse hugged 80-year-old just moments before she was killed, court hears

A homecare nurse hugged her employer for the last time, knowing she and her three accomplices would rob the 80-year-old a short while later, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

But stabbing Villa Merwe guesthouse owner Marie Verwey in February last year was not part of the plan she had hatched along with three alleged 26 gang members, Nicolize Geldenhuys told the court.

The homecare nurse told Judge Mushtak Parker she "wanted to tell the truth now".

Verwey was murdered in Paradyskloof and robbed of jewellery worth about R750 000.

Geldenhuys, her boyfriend Romeo Hendricks and co-accused Enrico "Darkie" Malherbe and Andre "Zibby" Coetzee are accused of stabbing her more than 50 times during the robbery.

According to Geldenhuys's version of events, she told Hendricks less than a week before the robbery that she had seen Verwey's safe filled with gold jewellery.

Hendricks had ostensibly wanted to involve a man, understood to be a high-ranking member of the 26s gang. These gang members are considered to be skelms (thieves).

She claimed this man, known as Franklin, his wife Jasmine and another gangster known as "Oog" had hatched a home invasion plan, which the four accused would action.

Initially, Jasmine would make a booking at the guesthouse and she and her husband would check in, Geldenhuys said. Franklin would tie up "Ma", the name which Geldenhuys called Verwey, and she would point them towards the safe.

Oog was injured in a brawl a day later and was not involved in the eventual execution of the plan.

On Thursday, February 16, 2017, Franklin said the plan had changed because Jasmine had not been able to make the booking, Geldenhuys testified.

"Franklin said we must still continue with the robbery. The plan was that, when we got to the house, Zibby and Darkie would jump over the security gate and hide behind the house. I had known Emmie (the domestic worker) ] would open the door," she said.

She would give Emmie a punnet of grapes that Zibby's girlfriend had provided as a ruse to get into the house and open the back door, Geldenhuys testified.

After borrowing petrol money to get to the crime scene and stealing number plates from a car parked at Huguenot railway station, the four accused drove to Pardyskloof to execute the plan, she said.

Geldenhuys hugged "Ma" when she opened the door, while leaning on her walker.

The elderly woman had been expecting her, Geldenhuys said, because she phoned beforehand to tell her employer she would bring Emmie grapes.

The domestic worker went to the shop and she took the punnet to the kitchen.

"I sat with her for about two minutes. She was in her chair when I greeted her on my way out. Then I heard the bell ring."

Malherbe had been at the door and asked for a glass of water, she testified.

"I didn't understand why he was at the door; it wasn't part of the plan," Geldenhuys said.

"I asked Ma if I could give him a glass of water and she said yes."

She acted as if she didn't know him and he drank the water at the door, Geldenhuys claimed.

"Then he came into the house, walked to Ma and said thank you for the water. I was still at the door when I saw he had a knife. I only saw the edge of the blade.

"I pulled him by his arm and asked him what he was doing. I can't remember exactly what happened thereafter."

According to Geldenhuys, Malherbe then started stabbing the 80-year-old.

"Ma called out: 'Nicole, help!' He kept stabbing her.

“At one point, he pointed the knife at me and said I must ‘hou my bek’ (shut my mouth) because I was making a noise.”

She left through the front door to tell Hendricks and Coetzee what their accomplice had done, she said.

"I cried and carried on in the car. They said it was done and there was nothing I could do."

Hendricks ostensibly old Geldenhuys to show Coetzee where the safe was. She complied.

When they entered, Geldenhuys claimed Malherbe removed Verwey's ring from her fingers.

She returned to the car and Malherbe and Coetzee followed a short while later, carrying two bags, Geldenhuys said.

They left and drove to Hanover Park, where Franklin and Jasmine lived.

She told Franklin over the phone that Malherbe had killed Verwey, she said.

"Jasmine asked if I was okay. I said no. It wasn't part of the plan to commit murder. We were just going to rob."

The men spoke "skollie taal" (thug language) and Jasmine told the two who had been in Verwey’s house to remove their clothes, which Franklin instructed her to burn, Geldenhuys said.

They threw the jewellery on the bed and decided to sell the rings first, throwing the rest of their loot into a bag and storing it in Franklin's cupboard, she said.

Geldenhuys said she and Jasmine drank "hard liquor" in the living room before going to a pawn shop in Cape Town to sell the ring. She doesn't know how much they got for the loot and Franklin had taken it, she alleged.

The women continued to drink after returning to Franklin's house, while drugs were also bought for her co-accused.

"I sat and cried, and Hendricks asked Jasmine to give me calming tablets," Geldenhuys testified.

It was dark when they left Hanover Park, she said.

She took money to the woman who looked after her children, Geldenhuys recalled while Hendricks had driven to Gouda to take money to his mother before the couple returned home.

The trial continues on Thursday.