The foreign national accused of killing his teen lover Elda Japhta says that she was desperately in love with him.
Zimbabwean-born Gift Sibondo, testified in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday that he had tried to render help from Child Welfare Services as Elda refused to leave him.
He said Elda wanted to continue living with him even after he spent five months in prison on a charge of kidnapping her.
Sibondo faces ten charges, including rape, statutory rape, kidnapping and murder.
The State alleges that Sibondo first kidnapped Elda in September 2013, when she was just 13 years old. He allegedly forced her to travel with him to Johannesburg, Leeu-Gamka and Swellendam over nine months, during which time he allegedly repeatedly raped her.
The teenager finally returned home in June 2014 and Sibondo was arrested. He made his first court appearance on June 23 and would spend five months in prison before the case against him was withdrawn.
On Tuesday, he described the run-up to his arrest to the Western Cape High Court and said police had fetched Elda in Arniston where the two had been staying briefly while he was finishing a job as a construction worker.
He testified that he returned to Bredasdorp to find out why the police were looking for him and was arrested while visiting his child born out of a previous relationship: “They kicked the door in and they told me to lie flat on the ground.”
The initial case against Sibondo never went to trial however.
“I was released from prison because Elda was called and then she said it was not true. She said it was not true that I raped and kidnapped her,” he said.
Sibondo told the court that when he was released from prison in November 2014, Elda wanted to continue living with him, but he was afraid he would be arrested again. He claimed he reported this to police and was then referred to Child Welfare Services.
But still she insisted she wanted to live with him.
“Elda said she had shown me she did love me by coming to tell the truth. She continued crying. I also got hard about it. That is when I just held her and took her home to live with her. I just felt pain because she had been crying,” he said.
Sibondo said he had no longer had sex with her as he was afraid of returning to jail.
He told the court that he “didn’t hear any complaints from Elda’s mother about us living together again”.
This, despite the fact that it was Elda’s mother who had opened two cases of kidnapping against him.
During the trial, two witnesses testified that they had seen Sibondo grab Elda, hit her and forcibly take her with him on May 25, 2014. But on Tuesday Sibondo insisted “that never happened”.
Sibondo was testifying as part of the defence’s application to have two rape charges against him withdrawn.
Elda’s body was found under Sibondo’s bed at the home they shared in an informal settlement in Bredasdorp, a small town about two hours away from Cape Town, about six months after his release from jail in May 2015.
A forensic pathologist testified during the trial that Elda had been severely beaten with a blunt object, had severe bleeding on the brain and had been strangled.