08/06/2006 10:47 - (SA)
Lucia Swart, Beeld
Johannesburg - A 53-year-old woman from South Hills, Johannesburg was overpowered inside her flat, gagged and apparently raped before being suffocated with a pillow and robbed.
Emily Smith was found by a neighbour on Wednesday after burglars had overpowered her inside her flat. They then pushed a piece of foam rubber taken from the couch on which she was lying, as well as a piece of towel, into her mouth.
"It was terrible. I wanted to find out from her whether she wanted to take a bath at our place, when I saw her on the couch with a pillow over her head. Her flat didn't have power.
"When I removed the pillow, I noticed the foam rubber and towel in her mouth. Her face was green. I started screaming and ran outside," said Ronel du Preez, Smith's neighbour, in the Tornaka Court block of flats in Outspan Road.
Du Preez was still shocked about the gruesome find. "It was not pretty to see. And that on an empty stomach. Just look what a large piece of foam rubber they had ripped from the couch," she said.
Du Preez said they heard "strange noises" about 22:00 on Tuesday night. "But I thought it was just somebody passing by. When I found her this morning, I realised it must have been the burglars. What do you think they wanted to steal? There's nothing here," she said, indicating Smith's few belongings.
Ellen Makhuba, another neighbour, said Smith was "a dear woman who would not hurt anybody. She lived here for 14 years and I knew her well. She was very lonely after her husband's death. I can't imagine why anybody would want to kill her."
Police spokesperson captain Cheryl Engelbrecht said Smith might have been strangled to death.
"Some groceries and a hotplate were stolen. Police are investigating murder and robbery."