Sunday, 7 January 2007

Brothers gunned down in driveway

January 02 2007 at 07:15AM

By Janine du Plessis

An eastern suburbs man was shot dead in his driveway and his brother wounded in a botched hijacking on Monday.

What was meant to be a happy family visit for the De Klerk brothers ended with Dr Cornelius de Klerk, 70, being shot dead and his brother Nico, who had just arrived from Windhoek, being rushed to hospital.

Details are still unclear about what transpired but it appeared that as Nico and his wife arrived at the 24th Street, Menlo Park, house, De Klerk went outside to welcome them and open the garage.

Extremely traumatised

It was then that two men armed with pistols and dressed as security guards approached the silver Mercedes-Benz.

Police spokesperson Constable Brenda Kgafela said that when De Klerk saw what was going on he ran back into the house and fetched his licensed firearm.

"The men were holding up the couple in the vehicle. As De Klerk came outside he fired a warning shot. Then a struggle ensued between the suspects and De Klerk," said Kgafela.Several shots were fired, hitting the brothers and a wall across the street.

According to paramedics, De Klerk was shot three times in the chest, once through the lower abdomen and in the left arm.

Kgafela said: "At this stage the details of what happened are unclear as we only have a statement from the wife, who is in shock."

Nico's wife escaped unhurt but was extremely traumatised.

The two men fled on foot with De Klerk's gun. "It is still unclear what they took. They did not manage to take the vehicle but the gun is definitely missing."

According to an official on the scene, one of the attackers may have been shot and wounded.

Police took a man who was seen running from the scene into custody. "He was seen running away when the police arrived. However, we have not been able to question him yet," said Kgafela.

LifeMed ambulance services paramedic Willie Lightfoot said the men approached Nico and his wife from both sides of their vehicle, opened the doors and pulled them out.

"The younger brother's wife began panicking and screaming and De Klerk came outside and fired two warning shots.

"One of the attackers fled and the other grabbed the younger brother. They struggled and he was shot in the left arm. De Klerk came closer to see what was happening and the first attacker came back and pushed him to the ground. There was a struggle and De Klerk was shot," said Lightfoot. He said it had been a traumatic incident for his team.

Adrienne Geldenhuis, De Klerk's eldest daughter, said the family was in shock and that the incident felt like a bad dream. "We still do not know what happened. We are numb. We spent a happy Christmas together as a family. It was horrible telling my sister, who is overseas, the news," said Geldenhuis.

Neighbours gathered at the scene, saying the murder of De Klerk was testament to the increase in violent crime in the area.

Just before Christmas, Susan Vermaak was murdered in the study of her Brooklyn home.

In October Hennie van den Berg was attacked in his Hazelwood home and died after a heart attack. In the same month Anton Lourens was wounded in his Menlo Park home. A couple of months earlier Zelda Zaaiman was murdered in the driveway of her Brooklyn home.

Police are urging anyone with information to contact Superintendent Deon Snyders on 082 778 9425.

Sapa reports that a suspected hijacker was critically injured during a shootout with police in an incident in Olifantsfontein on Saturday afternoon.

"Police came across four armed men hijacking a vehicle," said Superintendent Eugene Opperman.

The hijackers fled, pursued by police, and a shootout ensued. One suspect was critically wounded. "He was arrested and taken to a hospital under police guard."

Police in Maputoland, on the Mozambique border, are searching for a gang of heavily armed hijackers who held up two groups of visitors in a remote area of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park.

The seven gunmen stopped two Gauteng-registered vehicles and ordered the occupants to walk through thick bush until they got to a group of Namibian visitors who had also had their vehicle hijacked.

"The drivers were ordered back to the vehicles and told to hand over money and other valuables and to disclose information about the anti-theft devices on their vehicles," police said. "The victims were then left under armed guard while the vehicles were driven off. After about 30 minutes, the guard walked away leaving the people unharmed."

This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on January 02, 2007


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