Sunday, 22 November 2009

Siblings relive horror of parents' murder

Baldwin Ndaba

November 17 2009 at 08:17AM

All Jan Bijkersma and his sister Hiltje wanted to do was hug and kiss their parents when they returned from holiday.

An excited Hiltje rushed to the front door, and a broken window was the first sign that something was horribly wrong.

"The curtain was slightly opened. I went towards the curtain and pulled it. I saw my father's legs lying on the ground and I then took two steps backwards."

This was how Jan and Hiltje discovered their murdered parents when they returned to their Florida North home on May 2 last year after holidaying at Sabie in Mpumalanga.

'My parents allowed him to stay until he got a new job'

On Monday, the siblings testified in the Johannesburg High Court against their former gardener and chauffeur, Stephanus Modise, who has pleaded not guilty to murdering Douwe and Johanna Bijkersma, both 57, and Gelske Afke Wounda, 40, and attempting to murder Johanna Baecidina Durieux, 80.

"I then went back to pull the curtain again and I then saw my father lying on the floor with his head covered in blood. Jan was behind me. I told him not to go inside the house, but he insisted on doing so," Hiltje testified.

Jan testified that he "saw my mother's caregiver (Wounda) sitting dead on the sofa with her eyes and mouth wide open - I immediately knew the same thing had happened to my wheelchair-bound mother", Jan said.

"I saw my mother in her electric chair. I did not want to look at her. It was a horrific scene," he said.

The sibling's grandmother, Durieux, was stabbed in the neck but survived. Durieux died in July at a frail-care centre.

While Jan was in the living room, his grandmother called out to him.

"In Dutch, she said 'We've been attacked by a man carrying a long knife', before laying her face down on the floor," Jan testified. He then called the emergency services.

When asked about their family's relationship with Modise, both siblings testified it was good when he started working for them in October 2004.

The relationship, the court heard, turned sour when he allegedly became aggressive towards their mother, who was wheelchair-bound after one of her legs was amputated due to cancer.

After the amputation, their mother organised a driving licence for the accused to enable him to become her chauffeur.

Jan testified that in one incident, his mother became angry after Modise drove the family car aggressively. He said this was one of the factors that contributed to the family's decision to fire him.

The court heard that prior to the decision to fire him, Modise apparently approached the family and asked for a wage increase.

"My father told him that he was not able to give him an increase. He then advised him to learn a new trade and get alternative employment. He was lacklustre. My parents allowed him to stay until he got a new job," Jan said.

Hiltje testified how Modise went to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to lay a complaint of unfair dismissal against her parents early in 2007.

The CCMA ruled against his parents, who agreed on a payout in favour of Modise.

In August 2007 Modise apparently served the Bijkersmas with court papers, threatening to take them to the Labour Court for unfair dismissal.

Nine months later, Modise allegedly bought a knife at a Roodepoort shop, which he used to kill his former bosses on May 1 - Workers' Day.

Meanwhile, a piece of glove that Modise allegedly wore when he attacked his victims was found by Inspector Gert Pretorius, of the Serious and Violent Crime Unit. He spotted the piece of glove near the body of Douwe Bijkersma.

Pretorius testified that this glove was not one usually worn by detectives at a crime scene, and this had led them to believe it was worn by the killer. A forensic expert is expected to testify about the glove at a later stage.

The trial continues.

This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on November 17, 2009


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