12/02/2007 23:16 - (SA)
Dries Liebenberg, Beeld
Durban - The body of a woman who had helped a mom educate her son was found in the boot of her car on Sunday when police stopped it to check on the driving licences of the youth and his friend.
Rita Burdette, 84, a founder member of a private school in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, was found in the boot after police had stopped two youths, aged 17 and 18.
One of the youths is the son of a former domestic worker.
Burdette, a retired secretary of Treverton Preparatory School at Mooi River, was dressed in her nightclothes and a plastic bag had been pulled over her head.
The suspects were picked up about 18:00 on Sunday, driving towards Nottingham Road and about 30km from the school.
'Children' driving a car
Police spokesperson Joey Jeevan said a patrol car had stopped two youths in Burdette's red Volkswagen Golf, after motorists had phoned in to complain about "children" who were driving a vehicle.
Jeevan said: "The two suspects look young - as if they were only 14 or 15."
After police checked the car's registration number to trace its owner, they searched it and found Burdette's body in the boot.
Burdette was in her nightclothes, but her hands were not tied.
Jeevan said there was no sign of a break-in at her home, which overlooked the Treverton Preparatory School grounds.
Her spectacles lay on the floor of the doorway to the lounge, and detectives said this could indicate there was a struggle.
Police are investigating robbery as a motive for the killing.
Treverton headmaster Les Stanley said on Monday: "We are shocked. Her death has not really hit us yet."
Burdette worked as secretary at the school from its re-opening in 1964 until she retired, and was given permission to live on the premises afterwards.
She was a familiar sight in her little red car and was still active, said Stanley.
Guards didn't see her car
The police said Burdette was last seen alive at 11:00 on Sunday when she attended a service at Mooi River Baptist Church.
Security guards at the gate did not see the car leave the school grounds, according to Stanley.
The 17-year-old suspect appeared in court at Mooi River on Monday and the other suspect is due to appear in court soon.