31/01/2008 08:38 - (SA)
Jan Gerber, Die Burger
Franschhoek - She lived alone in a large thatched house with green shutters in the peaceful Van Wijk Street with its stately homes.
The decomposed body of Jana de Korte, 81, was found in her garage on Tuesday afternoon, a week after she was last seen.
She was apparently raped and beaten to death.
Three men, aged between 16 and 18, were arrested at the Paarl Magistrate's Court at about 11:30 on Wednesday morning.
They appeared for a separate case of housebreaking and theft, said police spokesperson inspector Bernadine Steyn.
De Korte was of Dutch decent. She was a quiet, private person, a recluse, but was much loved in town, said her shocked neighbour of four years, Gary Scott, on Wednesday.
He was one of the men who found her body.
"She was a private, independent person. She was gentle, a refined person. And a good artist," added his wife, Jo. De Korte recently also started writing. "She got up at 04:00 to write."
A friend arrived at De Korte's house on Tuesday morning. She was worried because she had not answered her telephone for two days.
"Jana regularly went out," said Scott, who was not concerned about it initially. But later another woman turned up. She too was concerned.
"I jumped over the wall," said Scott. "I noticed her open bedroom window." He peeped in and saw that her possessions were scattered all over the room and phoned the police.
He couldn't get access to the premises and called De Korte's security company. "I told them she had a studio at the back of the house."
Scott, the security guards, members of the police and another neighbour went to the studio. The other neighbour said he smelled something at the garage.
"We opened the door. She was lying there."
Scott said he didn't sleep much on Tuesday night and was still shocked on Wednesday.
According to Jo Scott, De Korte indicated that she sometimes had trouble with people at the house. She was excited about the Scotts' dogs and the wall they had raised.
According to the Scotts, De Korte recently sold her house and wanted to return to the Netherlands. Her husband died about 10 years ago and it was not known whether she had any children.
The Scotts knew about a brother in KwaZulu-Natal and a sister somewhere in the Cape.
According to Steyn it seemed as if De Korte had been hit against the head with a blunt object. "She was last seen on Thursday afternoon."
According to a police statement access was gained through an open bedroom window at the back of the house. The house was left in chaos and at this stage a laptop computer was missing.