’Murder Plot’ Was Horse Deal Trap, Accused Says

AERTISING company owner Susanne Hoff, who is accused of plotting to have her husband murdered near the end of 2011, is maintaining that the alleged prospective killer hired by her was only supposed to set up a trap to catch her husband selling horses belonging to her.

Hoff’s defence to the charge on which she went on trial in the Windhoek Regional Court on Monday emerged during the cross-examination of a key prosecution witness yesterday.

Hoff (53) has pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit murder. She is accused of having plotted during November 2011 to have her husband, Khomas Hochland area farmer Egbert Hoff, murdered. The murder conspiracy is alleged to have been planned five months after Mr Hoff left the couple’s home and moved into an adjacent house on his farm.

A State witness, Wilbard Malima, testified before Magistrate Dinnah Usiku yesterday that he met Mrs Hoff through an acquaintance in mid-November 2011. He said he, his friend and Mrs Hoff had a conversation in her double cab bakkie, during which she told him that her husband was abusing her and that she was looking for someone who would put him in a wheelchair by breaking his back.

When he had a next meeting with Mrs Hoff at a filling station in Windhoek, she told him that she did not think the plan to break her husband’s back would work, so she had decided instead that he should be killed, Malima said. She also told him and a friend who was with him that once her husband had been killed, his body should be put in a heap of old tyres at his farm, he said.

During the next day, Mrs Hoff drove with him and his friend to the farm to show them where the farmhouse and the heap of old tyres were, he said. On their return to Windhoek she told them that she would pay them N$25 000 for killing her husband, he testified.

Malima claimed that when he and Mrs Hoff had another meeting at the Windhoek Post Office, she gave him an envelope containing N$12 000. She also told him that he should bring her husband’s wallet, safe keys and cellphone to her after the killing, he said.

He decided to inform the police about the plot after that, he said. In the meantime he also used the money that Mrs Hoff had given to him.

Mrs Hoff was arrested on 30 November at a shop where she had met Malima and his friend. Malima said during that meeting he handed Mr Hoff’s wallet, keys and cellphone, which a police officer had given to him, over to Mrs Hoff.

Mrs Hoff’s defence counsel, Esi Schimming-Chase, told Malima during cross-examination that Mrs Hoff’s versions of events is that Malima was introduced to her as someone who could help her to collect debts owed to her business.

Around the middle of November Malima phoned her, asking for work, and she then told him that he could help her with a horse transaction, Schimming-Chase said. Mrs Hoff asked Malima to contact her husband and ask to buy a horse from him. Mrs Hoff’s instructions are that she told Malima that if her husband agreed to sell a horse, Malima had to get confirmation of the transaction on paper so that she could catch Mr Hoff selling her horses, Schimming-Chase told the witness.

Malima disagreed that Mrs Hoff had discussed such a transaction with him. “There was nothing like that,” he said. “There was nothing about horses.”

Schimming-Chase also told Malima that according to Mrs Hoff she gave him N$10 000, which he was supposed to use in the planned transaction with her husband. However, he spent the money that Mrs Hoff had given him.

Malima told the court: “I just took the money to use it. I could not kill, I’m not a killer.”

Seeing that Mrs Hoff has laid a theft charge against Malima after her arrest, Schimming-Chase swiftly retorted: “You’re not a killer, you’re a thief.”

Mrs Hoff’s further instructions are that Malima initially agreed that he would be paid N$2 500 for doing the horse transaction with Mr Hoff. Later, though, he wanted N$4 000 from Mrs Hoff, before he increased his price to N$5 000, Schimming-Chase said.

The trial is continuing.

Public Prosecutor Taodago Gaweseb is representing the State.

Source : The Namibian