Traumatised mom tells court of attack by alleged gangsters
Wearing a bulletproof vest and under heavy police guard, a traumatised mother yesterday told the Port Elizabeth High Court how she and her daughter had cowered over a toilet when two armed men stormed the bathroom in which they had sought refuge.
Candice Tee’s daughter, Aaliyah, 12, was shot dead when alleged gangsters broke into their home last year.
Tee told the court how the girl had held her hand over her chest and begged the men not to shoot her.
Shortly after her heartbreaking testimony, her daughter’s alleged killers, Nealon Redhouse, 18, and Deon Harmse, 24, shocked those in the courtroom by firing their Legal Aid attorneys.
It is believed the June 7 attack on the family came about as Tee and her husband had witnessed an alleged gang murder in front of their Bethelsdorp home a month earlier.
Before the men fired their attorneys, Tee told the court that one of them had said “shoot now bru” as Aaliyah begged them not to.
The two men, one of them a neighbour’s son, allegedly first shot Tee’s husband, Edmund, who was behind the back door of their Barberry Drive home trying to prevent the intruders from gaining access. He survived the shooting.
Tee said the men had been wearing black and Redhouse had been wearing safety goggles.
She said that after she and Aaliyah fled to the bathroom, she had grabbed Aaliyah and they had crouched down next to the toilet. “I prayed for the Lord to help us.” Tee said one of the men had then said “f**k you, auntie”, before firing the shot that killed Aaliyah.
“I heard something that sounded like a bomb going off next to me and then [felt] something warm like blood before I passed out,” she said.
After regaining consciousness, Tee said, she had lifted her head and looked to the left.
“I saw Aalyiah lying on the floor. I saw there was blood coming out of her ear. I took my hands [as if to pray] and said: ‘Take her Lord, she is yours’.”
Court proceedings were adjourned several times for Tee to compose herself.
Redhouse’s mother and other family members sobbed during parts of the testimony.
Tee said that after the shooting she had heard her husband call out, telling her he was injured.
As she had no airtime, she called the Vodacom emergency line for help.
“I went back to the bathroom and knelt in front of Aaliyah.
“I could feel she was getting cold and I saw how the blood was flowing out of her body.”
Tee said once she had gathered the strength to stand up she had left the house and reached a police officer who had arrived at the scene.
She also told the court that a month before Aaliyah was killed she and her husband had witnessed the murder of gang boss Donovan “Staal” Berry as she left a shop across the road from her home.
She found out only later who Berry was and she and her husband had initially not been keen to provide police with a statement but had done so a while after the murder.
Shortly after a lunch break yesterday, defence attorney Jodine Coertzen for Redhouse and attorney James Reilly representing Harmse informed the court their clients had fired them.
Coertzen had spent just 10 minutes cross-examining Tee before the pair’s shock move.
“My client informed me he no longer wanted me as his legal representative,” a clearly irate Coertzen said, while Reilly told Judge Mandela Makaula he felt he had walked into an ambush and had also been fired.
Both accused indicated they would appoint private legal representatives with money their family would gather. They asked that the case be postponed to January. Makaula said the case needed to be finalised. He gave the two men until tomorrow for new representatives to be appointed.
A clearly annoyed Makaula said: “The court cannot allow willy-nilly firing of attorneys to extend the case. Make up your minds by Friday.
“This is a warning because the court can see where this is going.”