Monday, 18 August 2008

'Just another murder, and no one cares'

Candice Bailey

August 18 2008 at 07:01AM

Every day when Craig Mackinnon, 38, turns over the calendar, he looks at picture of his late father, Ian, attached to it.

On Monday it may, however, be a bit more difficult for him.

Exactly four years ago to the day, his 60-year-old father was gunned down on their Walkerville smallholding as his mother Sabine stood just metres away.

As a result of the brutal murder, the lives of the entire Mackinnon family changed.

His mother refused to stay in the Walkerville home afterwards.

She now lives in Germany with her brother, after first moving in with Craig.

"We had to leave our entire life on that 10-acre plot," Mackinnon said this week.

The family also had to find homes for their six dogs.

"I lost my business. I'm unemployed because I have emotional blowouts. My mother moved in with us. We were sleeping on the floor in the lounge until she managed to get her own place."

But, four years after the murder, the police investigation has yielded nothing.

"And all we got from the police was 'nothing yet'. We were never phoned once by police. We had to call them all the time. Leigh, my common law wife, spent years trying and trying as my mother and I were swallowed by depression. But nothing has come of it," said Mackinnon this week.

Sitting in a dimly lit room of the highly secure Essenwood home in Noordwyk, Midrand, which his mother bought after living with him, Mackinnon is extremely upset that so little was done in the case.

Despite the time lapse, Mackinnon still remembers the evening clearly.

He claims that besides the police being unhelpful and leaving him to clean up the scene of the crime, he also picked up pieces of evidence.

"On the night I had to stand with a hosepipe leading from the garden into the house to wash away pieces of my dad's brain.

"The men had tried to shoot my mother, but the bullet missed her and ricocheted off the wall. I picked up the casing in the driveway and I picked up the bullet on the carpet in the living room. I handed them over to the police because they didn't find it. I don't think they handled this case properly at all. They just left it. It was absolute rubbish."

Mackinnon said that although the case was registered as a robbery, nothing was taken on the night of the shooting.

In another twist to the story, a neighbour arrested a 14-year-old, who admitted to the murder, but the case was thrown out of court.

The Mackinnons were told that this was because he had not been arrested at the scene of the crime that night.

Investigating officer, Inspector Kruger, said the 14-year-old was arrested and appeared in the Vereeniging's magistrate's court but despite the family saying he had made an admission, he could not be connected to the crime.

Kruger said information he had at the time was that there were no eyewitnesses as the wife was inside the house at the time of the shooting.

Mackinnon, however, believes the youth was responsible for the murder and said the arrest had given him hope.

"Now however, I have lost all hope."

In an angry outburst, Mackinnon said: "He was 14 at the time. That was four years ago. He is 18 now. Juvenile or not, the bastard must go to prison."

He criticised the police on their decisions on cases to tackle.

"They are extremely quick to track someone who has stolen something, especially if it money related.

"But murder is such a cheap and inconsequential thing."

He referred to the case of Leigh Matthews - the Sandton teenager, who died after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds.

Her body was refrigerated and dumped in Walkerville a few days later.

"It happened at exactly the same time."

Matthews, a 21-year-old student, was kidnapped and her parents paid a ransom of R50 000 for her.

Initially a task team of 10 detectives drawn from the Johannesburg serious and violent crime unit was established.

They were assisted by private detectives and received advice from a London-based international risk management company.

As days passed with no breakthrough, top police investigator Piet Byleveld was assigned and the tracking unit, crime intelligence, crime prevention and serious and violent crime units were all working on the case.

A 24-hour call centre manned by four staffers had also been set up.

Two months later, fellow student Donovan Moodley was arrested and charged for her murder.

"It was an absolute tragedy for them to find their daughter like that.

"But we still do not have any answers."

Mackinnon adds that there were several murders in Walkerville at the time, but that nothing was done.

"A man who sold fresh eggs and milk was tied up and shot. He was one of many others.

"My father's murder was treated just like all the others - just another murder.

"It's like no one wants to investigate anything in the south. It just gets ignored," he said.

Mackinnon said he was battling to find closure.

"What still gets us is that the bugger was caught but nothing was done about it.

"Life is so damn cheap. To be killed for nothing in a place where he was respected and considered a gentleman. My God, that's what is most disgusting.

"And then you get turned away constantly by the police."

"It's one murder but the lives of everyone around him have been knocked out of kilter.

"I know that it is the four year anniversary of the death of my dad.

"Everyday when I change the calendar, I look at my dad and say a few words to him."

This article was originally published on page 5 of Pretoria News on August 18, 2008


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