SA: Zim man goes on trial over rape and murder of British woman her resort

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SOUTH Africa: A man, who allegedly evaded police for years, is finally standing trial in the Polokwane High Court for the murder of a retired British teacher at her lodge in Thabazimbi, Limpopo.

Andrea Imbayarwo – a Zimbabwean national found to be in the country illegally for the past six years – is alleged to have murdered Christine Robinson, 59, on 30 July 2014.

Imbayarwo, 32, was an employee at the lodge at the time of the crime, under the name of Andrew Ndlovu.

He also faces charges of rape, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and several contraventions of the Immigration Act.

The State alleges he fled to Zimbabwe after the crime – but returned to SA several times, using different names.

He last entered the country, legally, via the Beitbridge border post on 8 December 2014, under the name of Andrea.

He was eventually arrested in Crosby, Johannesburg, on 30 July 2020.

He has denied all charges.

In court on Tuesday, his lawyer, Desmond Nonyane, lodged an application in terms of Section 174 for his client to be discharged.

Nonyane argued, before Judge Marisa Naude-Odendaal, that the State had failed to prove a prima facie case against the accused.

On the rape charge, Nonyane said the accused’s version was that he had consensual intercourse with Robinson a day before she was found dead at her house.

“The State didn’t prove that sexual intercourse took place without her consent. What the State did was to present DNA tests.

“It (DNA) only states that the accused made contact with the deceased. Whether it was without her consent remains a mystery at this stage,” Nonyane said.

He said the State had also failed to place the accused at the scene on the day of the crime.

Opposing the application, the State prosecutor, George Sekhukhune, first acceded that the robbery charge be dropped because one witness pointed out that “it seemed nothing was taken from the house”.

However, he argued that the accused could not claim he was never at the scene of the crime because he, at first, denied being in Thabazimbi when he was arrested by police.

Sekhukhune said: “So the question is now how did his semen get to Thabazani.

He said the evidence led showed that he was the only employee who was missing at the lodge when police arrived.

He also said evidence was led that he called one of the employees, known as Hopewell, to fetch him from a certain point and drop him at the Zimbabwean border.

“This is a show of a man on the run,” Sekhukhune said.

The accused allegedly also called his girlfriend, who was a witness, and confessed to her about the crime.

The judge adjourned the proceedings to Wednesday for a ruling on the defence’s application.