Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Gran killed, released suspect arrested

Murray Williams

November 11 2008 at 02:38PM

A 71-year-old woman is believed to have been murdered in Montagu by the same teenage suspect accused of robbing her and her husband's smallholding about two months ago.

Elna Burger was one of two elderly Western Cape citizens found murdered in their homes within hours of each other in brutal attacks which have left their families grief-stricken.

Burger's daughter, Antoinette Botma, said on Monday that her mother had returned home from church and had been due to prepare a salad to take to neighbours for Sunday lunch.

When she did not arrive, her neighbours became concerned and subsequently found her in her house dead with her neck broken. After prompt police action, two suspects, the teenager - who cannot be named - and an 18-year-old were both arrested on Monday for the Montagu murder. Burger's car and cellphone had been recovered.

The 17-year-old was due to appear in a Montagu court on Tuesday this morning.

Botma said her parents had lived on the farm, Tertia, about 30km outside Montagu, for their entire married lives since 1960 and had raised their two children on the farm.

Botma said her family was particularly aggrieved by the fact that the same 17-year-old had been caught red-handed robbing their home in early September.

Botma alleged that police had released the youth and that he had failed to appear in court.

However, police spokesperson Bernadine Steyn countered this allegation on Tuesday morning, saying it had been Botma's father who had chosen to withdraw the charges.

Burger had since died of a sudden heart attack six weeks ago, while her sickly mother had been in hospital.

Botma said her mother and father had not been overly security-conscious and the family had been concerned about Elna Burger living alone on the smallholding since her husband's death.

They had planned to sell the property.

Steyn confirmed that a preliminary post-mortem had confirmed that Burger had suffered a broken neck.

Botma speculated that this could have been sustained from a heavy fall during the robbery.

On Monday morning a well-known Paarl businessman, Fred Abrahams, 78, was found dead at his home in Klein Drakenstein Avenue, Paarl East.

The 78-year-old man, who owned several properties in the Boland town, was found by his son with his hands and feet bound together and apparently strangled with a tie.

Police said no signs of forced entry could be found. A safe in the bedroom had been found open and empty.

In Paarl, police spokesperson Diana Fransman said there had been no arrests in the Abrahams murder.

Abrahams's family did not wish to speak further.

The pair's deaths come four months after three gruesome murders of elderly citizens - the killing of Robin McGregor, 79, the founder of a business information research and publishing group Who Owns Whom, in Tulbagh.

A businessman and publisher who, for nearly three decades, "fought against anti-competitive behaviour" between companies and "first exposed the monopolistic structure" of the South African economy was stabbed to death in a robbery at his Tulbagh home.

A week earlier, the bodies of 78-year-old Schalk van der Westhuizen and his 72-year-old wife, Marie, were found in their Kleinmond home on August 4 - also after returning from church, as Burger had done this past weekend.

Three suspects were arrested for the McGregor murder and two for the murders of the Van der Westhuizen couple, who were close family of top Cape Town model Minki van der Westhuizen.

This article was originally published on page 3 of Cape Argus on November 11, 2008


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