Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Woman killed at home in broad daylight

Graeme Hosken

October 17 2007 at 07:24AM

A woman was killed in broad daylight in Lynnwood Manor on Tuesday after she stumbled on a gang of armed men ransacking her house.

Cathy Odendaal was apparently tortured, sexually assaulted and then murdered by the four-man gang who have been terrorising the suburb.

But in an unusual mobilisation of forces on Tuesday night, members of the community, along with a group of construction workers from Mamelodi, rallied together to hunt down the alleged culprits.

Two men who were found in possession of an unlicensed handgun and jewellery belonging to Odendaal were arrested - one of them, who was wearing a Springbok jersey, was seriously hurt after being subdued by the workers.

'If only we could have done something to save her'

The men broke into the Farnham Street home while Odendaal's domestic worker Francia Majadibodu was taking a shower.

Odendaal was out shopping at the time.

The attack comes less than 72 hours after a gang of robbers shot and critically injured the three-year-old daughter of Musa Ebrahim's domestic worker in an attack on his home - also in Farnham Street.

Odendaal is believed to have been attacked by her killers, who were armed with an assortment of weapons, including a screwdriver, when she surprised them as they were ransacking her home.

The men are believed to have tortured her before sexually assaulting her.

Neighbours and police said it seemed as if the attackers were fleeing through the garden when Odendaal, who had been left for dead, managed to raise the alarm.

This apparently prompted her attackers to return.

It seems they then killed Odendaal. Police at the scene could not say whether she had been shot or stabbed.

Majadibodu discovered Odendaal's body lying sprawled in a outside room near the kitchen.

Screaming for help, she stopped a passing Lynnwood Ridge Community Policing Forum member who raised the alarm.

Residents drove through Lynnwood Manor looking for the suspects. One of the alleged attackers was caught climbing over another Farnham Street house garden wall while the second was caught when the construction workers spotted him trying to rob another woman at a bus stop.

Construction worker Vusi Sithole, who was driving with his brother Johannes and neighbour Colbert Novela, said that as they drove towards Mamelodi they spotted a man holding a woman around the throat. He was wearing a Springbok jersey.

"As we stopped he screamed at us to 'voertsek' and then ran off."

Chasing after him, the three escaped with their lives after the man, who had hidden behind a clump of bushes in Cedar Street, leapt at their truck, pushed a gun into the driving compartment and opened fire.

Novela had a spade with him and managed to push the spade against the gun, deflecting the bullet.

The three men pushing the man from the truck and attacked him with the spade and a rock, overpowering him before stopping a passing police patrol.

Vusi Sithole said that when the man attacked them and began shooting he thought he was going to die.

"If it had not been for Colbert we would be dead," he said.

Sithole burst into tears on hearing of Odendaal's murder.

"If only we could have done something to save her. I wish we could have caught the man before he killed that lady," he said.

Police spokesperson Inspector Paul Ramaloko confirmed that Odendaal had apparently been tortured before being murdered

He said that police were also investigating whether Odendaal had been raped or sexually assaulted.

"Two men have been arrested and charged with murder, armed robbery and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition. They will appear in court soon," he said.

He appealed to anyone who had information on the whereabouts of the other two suspects to contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on October 17, 2007


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