Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Brutal murder shocks town

23/01/2008 08:01 - (SA)

Riëtte Olivier, Die Burger

Graaff Reinet - Residents of this historical town were shocked by the cruel murder of a police instructor.

Senior superintendent Erika Heunis, 36, was apparently raped before she was beaten to death with stones. There were supposedly three attackers, but by late on Tuesday police still refused to reveal any facts.

According to a source at the police academy where she worked, she was running as usual with police students along Mountain Avenue, a well-known hiking trial outside the town, when she was murdered about 3km from the turn-off to the road. Her attackers apparently laid in wait for her.

As usual, Heunis continued her jogging after the other students had turned back after about 2km.

Family was too shocked

"When she failed to return to the academy after a while, two police officers investigated," said the source, who wanted to remain anonymous.

These officers found her semi-naked body under a bush along the dirt road. Forensic specialists arrived at the crime scene from Port Elizabeth on Tuesday afternoon to investigate the murder.

Police spokesperson inspector Wena Theron was unable to explain why the specialists at Graaff Reinet did not investigate the scene.

"A full report will be issued on Wednesday morning," was all she said.

Heunis's family was too shocked to comment on the incident. A friend of the family, who wanted to remain anonymous, said they were very shocked and sad. "We don't know exactly what happened, so we don't want to comment," she said.

Kritzinger Mey, leader of the FF+ in the Eastern Cape, expressed his shock at the "cruel murder".

According to Mey, Heunis's husband Garth was attending a course in Johannesburg when the incident happened. He would have flown back to Port Elizabeht late on Tuesday, and would then have been taken to Graaff Reinet by helicopter.

Dave Mugglestone, principal at Union High School, which was attended by Heunis's two daughters Monique, 12, and Chanzelle, 13, said he got goose bumps when hearing about the incident.

"We are devastated. Her death is not only a loss for the children, but for the whole community. She was a wonderful woman."

Bronwyn Jacobs, a resident, said Heunis's death was proof that "one can never be too careful".

Another resident, Christa Hahn, said residents had been warned not to use the road where Heunis was attacked.

Two people were attacked and nearly raped along this road last year, said Captain Daan Zeelie, head of the detective branch at Graaff Reinet.

Henry Grootboom was arrested shortly afterwards. He was found guilty on assault charges.

By late on Tuesday afternoon no news was available about funeral arrangements.


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