Sunday, 17 January 2010

Another pensioner meets brutal death at home

Graeme Hosken

January 14 2010 at 07:14AM

A second Pretoria pensioner in less than a week has met a violent death at the hands of thugs.

Katrina Hendrika van den Berg, 65, was found murdered in her Daspoort home, apparently killed by a man who was carrying out maintenance work on her property.

Her death comes days after Kitty Botha, 83, was slain in her Lyttelton home, which was set alight by robbers who killed her without taking anything.

Van den Berg's badly bruised and battered body was discovered in her lounge yesterday by her husband, Jan, 56, after neighbours were unable to raise her on the phone or by calling her name outside her Herman Street property.

Unable to reach his wife on her cellphone, Van den Berg phoned neighbours and asked them to go and see if they could see his frail wife in the garden.

When they called him back and said they could not see her, he raced home.

Unable to unlock the gate and seeing the kitchen security door standing open, Van den Berg scaled the garden wall.

He walked through his ransacked home and found his wife's body sprawled in the lounge, a kitchen dishcloth clasped tightly in her hand.

It is believed she was washing the morning dishes when she was attacked, apparently by a man assigned to do repairs to the roof of their home.

As police searched the house for clues, visibly distraught family members gathered at a neighbour's home.

"I can't believe it, I can't believe they have killed her," said a family friend.

The woman, who broke down in tears and had to be led away by a trauma counsellor, said Van den Berg had been extremely kind and caring.

"She never said a bad word about anyone. She had so much time for people and was very loving towards everyone."

Van den Berg's stepson, who asked not to be named, said the family were devastated.

"We are heartsore. We don't know what to do. It is like a bad dream. I keep on thinking we are going to wake up, but in the end we are not," he said.

He said his stepmother was full of love and kindness. "She would do anything to help someone and always had time for people. What happened is beyond belief," he said.

Police believe Van den Berg was attacked in the kitchen before she was dragged through to the bathroom where she was tied up.

Police Inspector Louis de Bruin said Van den Berg had been tied up and beaten in the bath.

"As well as finding ropes, which Van den Berg managed to undo, investigators also found blood smears in the bath. Investigators believe the blood may be from injuries caused either when she was beaten over the head or when she fell in the bath," he said.

He said it was not yet known whether Van den Berg was finally killed in the lounge after being dragged from the bathroom, or whether she was attacked there when she tried to escape from her home to raise the alarm, thinking her assailant had fled.

De Bruin confirmed that detectives were looking for a man who had been doing maintenance work at the home, as well as the family's gardener.

He said it appeared as though only Van den Berg's cellphone had been stolen in the attack.

This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on January 14, 2010


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