22/10/2007 09:18 - (SA)
Christopher de Wet, Beeld
Pretoria - A man who was described as "gentle" was murdered shortly before his 65th birthday after his nose and mouth were taped shut with masking tape, and he presumably suffocated.
The victim was 64-year-old Stephan Manthe, whose brother was shot and killed in a vehicle hijacking about two years ago.
Manthe died on his employer's smallholding at Kameeldrift, just outside Pretoria.
Mac McDougal, 39, who had been Manthe's friend for 20 years and his employer for the past two, said the murder had shaken him.
Robbers looked for money
McDougal, of Lynnwood Glen in Pretoria said he had opened the gates to the smallholding at about 07:00 on Saturday.
Manthe apparently knew that McDougal wanted to pick up things there.
It looked as if Manthe had been overpowered at the gate, assaulted and dragged across the premises.
It appeared that the robbers were searching for the tin moneybox that Manthe had in safekeeping, because the tin was gone.
There must have been between R10 000 and R20 000 in that tin, McDougal said.
McDougal, who owned the Fern Gold furniture company in Pretoria, found Manthe's body.
His nose and mouth were covered by masking tape. His hands were also tied behind his back.
"He looked bad. He had been badly assaulted and his head was covered in blue bruises," McDougal said.
"When the robbers found what they were looking for, they merely bound his mouth and nose with masking tape and left him to suffocate."
Inspector Paul Ramaloko said charges of murder and robbery were being investigated.
There had been no arrests as yet, but the police were reportedly following "strong leads".
McDougal's cousin, Ben van Heerden, 44, said Manthe would have turned 65 on October 26.