Five men stood in court today accused of the brutal execution of Heila Kilian in April 2018 on a homestead just outside Stilbaai (Still Bay) in the Western Cape, South Africa. Witness Shaun Vorster described the terror and torture of the night’s events.
The crime – almost two years ago – was so horrific it shook South Africa and made headlines internationally, especially since it took place on the farm of a British engineer David Thomas (68) whose wife Brenda was Heila’s sister.
David and Brenda had welcomed Heila to their homestead just a day before she was killed in cold blood.
Father-of-two David had been playing the guitar as family friend and tenant Shaun Vorster, 53, cooked chicken kebabs for the group of four over open coals. They had just served up at 10pm.
As the happy group toasted each other with glasses of red wine, a gang of five men – wearing orange boiler suits with balaclavas and masks – suddenly appeared out of the darkness with guns.
A moving video taken by David, just minutes before Heila was murdered, shows her and her sister Brenda toasting him with glasses of red wine as Shaun cooks the food.
WATCH VIDEO: Heila Kilian’s final joyful moments on evening of farm attack, April 2018
Shortly after this footage ends fun-loving mother-of-four Heila was dead.
Mossel Bay High Court in Western Province heard that one of the men raised a pistol and walked up behind unsuspecting Heila and shot her dead from behind with a single shot.
She collapsed instantly with a bullet straight through her heart onto the dinner table as the armed gang then attacked terrified David and his wife Brenda, and their friend Shaun.
The three survivors were put through two hours of torture and beatings until Brenda managed to bravely escape and the gang panicked and fled in David’s stolen Toyota Hilux.
They had forced Shaun to open his safe under threat of death, and escaped with a number of hunting rifles, a shotgun, a pistol, hunting knives, £1,600 in cash and Brenda’s jewellery
Heila was left lying by the braai as David and Shaun tried to free themselves from their bonds to then raise the alarm summoning the police.
Shaun Vorster’s testimony: “I could see fear in his eyes”
Shaun told the court: “David was playing gospel music on his guitar and the ladies were sharing cell phones photos; and I saw him just stand up and drop his guitar.
“I could see fear in his eyes, and at same time heard voices behind me, and turned round, and the attackers came straight for us; and they had firearms that were pointed straight at us.
“I dropped the casserole I was holding and they were on top of me and had a knee pushed into my back and a firearm pushed into the back of my head until I was on the ground.
“I was told not to move and my mouth and nose was in the sand, my arm up behind my back and then I heard a gunshot go off and then a sound like someone letting out a deep breath.
“I could hear David screaming in the background like a man being hurt and in a lot of pain.
“We were tied up with a sort of wire and I could hear them hitting David on his head asking where the money was – thumping noises followed by excessive noises showing his pain.
“I opened the safe but they just kept beating and beating until Brenda escaped, and then they were gone and David and I got free and I raised the alarm at another farm” he said.
Police and paramedics raced to the remote farm but nothing could be done to save Heila who was certified dead at the scene from a single gunshot that perforated her heart.
The accused five
Sakhumzi Benya, 29, Nkosihethu Nocuza, 25, Msomi Nikani, 25, Monwabisi Maki, 23, and Xolusani Myoyi, 29, appeared before Judge Lister Nuku charged with her brutal murder.
All five pleaded not guilty and also denied robbery with aggravating circumstances, unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition and malicious damage to property and to theft.
They all face a minimum life sentence behind bars if found guilty of the charges.
David, originally from Surrey, and the group were attacked at Gazania Farm which he ran as a coffee shop and Christian drop in centre.
As reported in the UK press, the farm is a four hour drive from Cape Town on the Garden Route… and popular with tourists.
Divorced David met South African-born Brenda when she was working at a school in Dubai, and he was working for a US corporation, and they married seven years ago on a visit to the UK.
Churchgoing David is a father-of-two grown up sons who live in the UK and divorcee Brenda has a grown up son from a previous marriage.
They left South Africa after the murder.
Murdered Heila from Springs, near Johannesburg, was a loving mother-of-four grown up children and married to Hein, 76, a retired South African Police anti-riot squad commander.
According to the Daily Mail, in 2019 there were 552 attacks on outlying farms in South Africa affecting over 1,000 people, some of whom were tortured with hot irons, blow torches and power tools with 57 murdered.
Heila’s sister Brenda and brother-in-law David will give their eye witness evidence later in the trial.
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