The “murderers” accused of murdering the sister-in-law of a British engineer before being tortured for two hours during an attack on their South African farm have appeared before the court.
The devastated David Thomas, 68, waits almost two years for the brutal gang accused of shooting Heila Kilian, 63, to be tried for her murder.
In April 2018, David’s teacher wife Brenda, 63, had welcomed her elder sister Heila to their home just outside Still Bay, the day before she was shot in cold blood.
Sakhumzi Benya, 29, Nkosihethu Nocuza, 25, Msomi Nikani, 25, Monwabisi Maki, 23 and Xolusani Myoyi, 29, all argue not guilty of murder, theft with aggravating circumstances, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition and malicious damage to property and theft when they appeared before Judge Lister.
They are all confronted with a minimal life sentence if they are found guilty of the charges.
(From left to right) Sakhumzi Benya, 29, Nkosihethu Nocuza, 25, Msomi Nikani, 25, Monwabisi Maki, 23 and Xolusani Myoyi, 29, all argue not guilty of murder, theft with aggravating circumstances, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition and malicious damage to property and theft
The mother of four Heila Kilian, 63, (left) was shot in the heart when a group attacked them in South Africa. Her sister Brenda, 63, and her sister’s partner David Thomas, 68, were tortured for two hours before Brenda managed to escape
Mrs. Kilian had visited the family in South Africa in April 2018. She is pictured while enjoying lunch with them in a selfie made by Mr. Thomas
Father of two David played guitar as family friend Shaun Vorster, 53, cooked kebabs for the group of four over open coals and had just served at 10 o’clock.
While the happy group were toasting each other with glasses of red wine, five black men in orange kettle suits and balaclavas and masks suddenly appeared with guns out of the darkness.
A moving video, taken by Brit David, just minutes before Heila was killed, shows her and her sister Brenda toasting him with glasses of red wine while their tenant Shaun is cooking the food.
Shortly after this footage had ended, the loving mother of four Heila was dead.
Mossel Bay High Court in the western province heard that one of the men raised a gun and ran behind unsuspecting Heila and shot her with one shot from behind.
Mrs. Kilian with her sister Mrs. Thomas. The lucky group was attacked when they roasted each other with glasses of red wine near a campfire
Mrs. Kilian and Mrs. Thomas at a campfire with family friend Shaun Vorster, 53, moments before they were attacked by five men
Mrs. Kilian pictured with her daughter Marika. Fortunately, footage allows the mother to enjoy her time in South Africa just before her death
Mrs. Kilian, pictured as having lunch the day before her death, was shot in the heart
She immediately fell to the dining table with a bullet straight through her heart when the armed gang then attacked terrified David and his wife Brenda and their friend Shaun.
The three survivors were subjected to two hours of torture and ill-treatment until the brave Brenda managed to escape and the gang panicked and fled in David’s stolen Toyota Hilux.
They had forced Shaun to open his safe under death threats and escaped with a number of shotguns, a shotgun, a gun, hunting knives and £ 1,600 in cash and Brenda’s jewelry
Victim Heila was left in a pool of her own blood at the barbecue while David and Shaun tried to free themselves from their tires and then to raise the alarm and to call the police.
David from Effingham, Surrey, and his wife Brenda and sister-in-law Heila and tenant Shaun were attacked at Gazania Farm, which he ran like a coffee shop and Christian drops into the center.
The five men accused of her murder and torture of the others are depicted at the court in Mossel Bay, South Africa
They are confronted with a life sentence if they are found guilty of the charges
(from left to right) Msomi Nikani, 25, Monwabisi Maki, 23 and Xolusani Myoyi, 29, depicted in court
This is the farm in Still Bay, South Africa, where the family and friends had a party before they were attacked by a gang
The men pictured with a stolen Toyota Hilux on CCTV. It was taken during the attack
It is a four-hour drive from Cape Town on the Garden Route popular with British tourists
Victim Mr Vorster told the court: ‘David played gospel music on his guitar and the ladies shared photos from cell phones and I just saw him stand up and drop his guitar.
“I saw fear in his eyes and at the same time heard voices behind me and turned around and the attackers approached us and they had firearms aimed directly at us.
“I dropped the frying pan that I was holding and they lay on me and had a knee in my back and a firearm in the back of my head until I lay on the floor.
“I was told not to move and my mouth and nose were in the sand, my arm raised behind my back, and then I heard a gunshot go off and then a sound like someone was breathing deeply.
Mrs. Kilian enjoys a hug with her sister Mrs. Thomas. Victim Mr Vorster told the court how he saw Mr Thomas drop his guitar when he saw the attackers approaching
Mrs. Kilian pictured at George Airport in South Africa, where she was greeted by her sister Mrs. Thomas and her sister’s husband
British engineer David Thomas and his wife Brenda (left and right) enjoy their time in South Africa. The couple will testify later in the process
Mrs. Kilian smiling at family photos. A witness described that he heard someone “breathing deeply” after a shot at the farm in April 2018
Mrs. Kilian relaxes with her sister Mrs. Thomas on a double bed. Witness Mr. Vorster said that after being tied up, he had heard Mr. Thomas hit his head repeatedly when the gang asked where the money was hidden
“I heard David scream in the background like a man who is hurt and in great pain.
“We were tied with some sort of wire and I heard them hit David on the head and ask where the money was – thumping noises followed by excessive noises that showed his pain.
“I opened the vault, but they kept knocking and hitting until Brenda escaped and when they were gone and David and I were released and I sounded the alarm at another farm,” he said.
Police and paramedics ran to the remote farm, but nothing could be done to save Heila, who had been declared dead on the spot, from a single shot that pierced her heart.
Divorced David met Brenda, born in South Africa, when she was working at a school in Dubai and working for an American company and they got married 7 years ago on a visit to the UK.
Churchgoing David is a father of two adult sons living in the UK and divorced wife Brenda has an adult son from a previous marriage and they left South Africa after the murder.
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas with Mrs. Kilian in the moments before her death. The five accused men face life imprisonment if they are found guilty of the crimes
British engineer David Thomas, 68, with his wife Brenda, 63, on their farm in South Africa, where her sister was shot
The sisters keep their glasses on while they toast each other around a fire, moments before they are attacked
Murdered Heila from Springs, near Johannesburg, was a loving mother of four adult children and married Hein, 76, a retired commander of the South African police anti-riot police.
Husband and wife David and Brenda will testify later in the process
In 2019 there were 552 attacks on remote farms affecting more than 1000 people, many of whom were brutally tortured with hot irons, torches and power tools, killing 57 people.