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Jogger recounts stabbed cyclist's 'horrific' last moments

11 February 2020 - 06:30 By Aron Hyman
Blessing Bveni, who faces two counts of murder and one of attempted murder, in the high court in Cape Town.
Blessing Bveni, who faces two counts of murder and one of attempted murder, in the high court in Cape Town.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

Fish Hoek baker Stephen Howells pointed out Blessing Bveni as the man who allegedly murdered cyclist Ian McPherson at the Table Mountain National Park in March 2018.

Howells told the Cape Town high court on Monday that he was on his morning run on March 13 2018 when he had to stop on a narrow route flanked by a thick hedge to let a cyclist go past.

The man was riding a top-of-the-range, neon-coloured GT mountain bike. According to Howells, he was hurried and accidentally bumped his shoulder, greeting him with “Ola”.

He would later point out the person from a list of faces to police as Bveni, the Zimbabwean citizen who is now being charged on various counts of murder, assault and robbery.

A few metres down the path, Howells would describe a sight so horrific that he advised that it would be better if McPherson's wife Allyn left the courtroom first.

“He was lying on the greenery, kind of on his back. He was quite pale. When he saw me he put his arms up. His breathing was laboured. He couldn't talk but his eyes were clearly asking for help,” said Howells.

“When I got to him, he had a big stab wound to his stomach and his intestines were hanging out.”

He took off his shirt to try to push McPherson's intestines back into the large gash which ran up the length of his abdomen.

“I grabbed his hand and said to him, 'I have to run to get help'. I said, 'I'll be back just now,' which must have been terrible for him as there was no-one there for him.”

Howells then ran up towards a residential area in Brigantine Road, where he tried to find help from residents. He noted that he should have seen McPherson's alleged attacker on his way back, but he thought the man went off the route and into the sand dunes.

Eventually, a white Mercedes-Benz came driving along Brigantine Road. “I jumped in front of the car. I asked the lady inside to please call emergency services because someone was stabbed. She was hysterical. Another runner came running down, he and I ran back together,” he said.

By this time, neighbours had come out to see what the commotion was and the police were called.

When they arrived back, McPherson was still clinging onto life. “I grabbed his hand. His helmet was choking him so I took it off. I put him onto his side so he could breathe easier, but it was just ... horrific ... just blood,” said Howells.

He tried to encourage McPherson to hold on as he could hear the paramedics coming, but by this time McPherson's breathing was getting increasingly laboured and his face was becoming grey.

“He held on as long as he could. When I saw the paramedics coming down the pathway, that's when he passed on,” said Howells.

Medics tried for close to an hour to revive McPherson, but it was too late. “I knew from what I had seen I didn't think Mr McPherson would survive,” he added.

Howells was questioned by police at the scene. He gave them a description of the suspect and what he saw. Police also made a sketch based on Howes' description of the man. He told the court that he remembered Bveni's face clearly, but that he had longer hair in a “short dreadlock” style. When Bveni appeared in court this week his head was shaved.

Howells also said he clearly recalled Bveni's “small ears” and that he was a short, stocky man.

When he was asked to point out Bveni from a set of photos about a month later, he said he very quickly recognised him.

During cross-examination, Bveni's legal aid attorney Henk Carstens told the court that his client had never seen Howells before and had never been in the area where the incident happened.

“I think he's talking complete rubbish,” replied Howells.

The trial will continue on Tuesday.