These days, butlers are mostly straight from the movies — but 43-year-old Andrew Minnaar is an unlikely film star.
Minnaar was late mining magnate Brett Kebble’s housekeeper from 2002 until the day Kebble was killed, September 27 2005. He testified for the state on Wednesday in the trial of Glenn Agliotti, who is charged with Kebble’s murder.
A softly spoken, grey-haired man, Minnaar knew Kebble’s routines and habits inside out.
After responding to an advertisement in a newspaper, Minnaar “managed” Kebble’s Inanda mansion, “looked after guests”, “maintained the property” and had full control over who entered the premises.
He also prepared meals for Kebble.
On the night of Kebble’s death, he made the flamboyant mining boss his last supper — steak and chips — which he served to Kebble and his spin doctor, Dominic Ntsele.
The night before, Minnaar had prepared prawns, which he said had given Kebble an upset stomach. To Minnaar’s surprise, Kebble drank three gin and tonics at 11am the next morning, despite complaining of stomach pains caused by the prawns.
He said Kebble had been “depressed”, “troubled” and “a recluse” in the days before his death, and “spent a lot of time upstairs in his room”.
In his statement to the state, Minnaar said Kebble’s “assisted suicide did not surprise me”.
He was concerned about Kebble’s “pretty heavy” drinking, which usually included wine, beer and whisky before dinner, wine with dinner and then “grappa or something like that” after dinner.
On the night Kebble was shot, he did a few things that were “out of character”, Minnaar testified.
He left the house, saying he was going out to dinner, “but he didn’t have a gift with him, his sleeves were rolled up and … he complimented me on the meal”.
Minnaar told the court that corrupt former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi visited Kebble at least once a month. “Selebi was supposed to do certain things for Brett that never happened … protection, basically,”he said.
“There was a mention of money [Kebble] wanted returned from Mr Agliotti. I heard it in meetings and it was in documentation at the house … R15-million.”
Minnaar also alleged that Kebble had bought a cellphone for then ANC Youth League leader Fikile Mbalula, now deputy minister of police, so they could communicate on the sly.
Minnaar cleaned up the “broken lamps” after Kebble and his father, Roger, had a fistfight two months before his death, and Kebble trusted his butler enough to leave large wads of cash, up to R5 000, lying around.
In cross-examination, defence counsel Laurance Hodes called Minnaar “dishonest” and accused him of signing a statement that had been “sanitised” by the Scorpions.
Visibly terrified by Hodes’s barrage of allegations, Minnaar was reprimanded by Judge Frans Kgomo for his nervous “guffaws and laughing”.
By the time Hodes had finished with him, Minnaar was trembling.