Sunday, 14 February 2010

Another elderly couple killed at home

Hanti Otto

February 12 2010

Yet another elderly couple have been brutally murdered in the city, bringing to six the number of pensioners killed in Pretoria over the past month.

The bodies of Theuns Venter - who celebrated his 85th birthday last week - and his wife Suzie, 83, were discovered by their grandson when he returned from his night shift as a security guard on Thursday morning.

Police are also investigating the possibility that the woman might have been raped.

As neighbours and relatives comforted each other outside the quaint old house on the corner of Mortimer Avenue and Louis Trichardt Street in Mayville, the couple's dog finally came out from underneath the furniture, where she had been hiding for several hours.

Police spokesperson Inspector Wanda Olivier said their grandson Hain Engelbrecht, 32, arrived at the house at about 6.15am.

Although the couple were very security-aware, the front gate, security gate of the front door, the front door and the back door were open. It did not appear that the doors and gates had been forced open.

Seeing that his grandparents' 1984 model minibus was missing, Engelbrecht ran into the house.

He found his grandfather in the living room. "He was lying on his stomach and his hands and feet were tied with electrical cables believed to have been cut from appliances in the house. We suspect he was hit over the head with a blunt object," Olivier said.

The grandmother was lying in the passage. She was not tied up. It is believed she was strangled with a piece of cloth that was found nearby.

The couple's minibus and Engelbrecht's PlayStation were the only items taken.

Venter was a retired council employee, while his wife did not work.

Neighbours said they had seen the minibus around 10pm on Wednesday.

"The attackers had to push the vehicle outside, as we always hear when the Oom starts it," one of them said.

Another said she was woken at about 6.30am when Engelbrecht came looking for her. "Someone hit Oupa over the head," he told the neighbour.

She asked if the couple were okay. Engelbrecht responded: "I don't think so. They are ice cold."

Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha said paramedics were called to the house to treat a person who had collapsed.

However, "the paramedics were shocked to find a male on the floor with his feet and hands bound". Botha said it appeared that the couple had died during the night.

Shaking her head in disbelief, a neighbour said the Venters had been living in their house for 50 years and had been married for 58 years.

"The auntie had a stroke a few years ago. She walked with a lot of difficulty, holding on to objects. Oom Theuns used a wheelchair for her when they went anywhere," one woman said.

Every afternoon they would sit on the porch together.

Every Friday, Suzie would go to the hairdresser. Then the couple would go to Mayville Mall, where they treated themselves to breakfast and bought groceries for the week.

"It might sound harsh, but maybe it was better for them to die together. The one would not have made it without the other," a neighbour said.

The neighbours said they all felt they were living in a safe area, with only a few houses having high walls.

"We've never even had a housebreaking. They'd better bring back the death sentence. I hope they catch these f**kers," said an angry neighbour.

The couple had two daughters and four grandchildren. Engelbrecht's parents were on their way from the KZN South Coast after hearing the news.

Engelbrecht spoke to police officers, informed family members of the tragedy and then suddenly fell to his knees on the grass, crying.

"You don't want to know what I saw in there," he said as he pointed to the house. "I am trying to be strong, but the way they looked..." he stopped in mid-sentence, overcome with emotion.

His sister Yvette said they lived with their grandparents when they were young, with her grandfather accompanying them to the school across the road every morning.

"They were supposed to be at my 30th birthday party next month. I can't imagine the fear they must have gone through in their last moments," she said.

This article was originally published on page 4 of Pretoria News on February 12, 2010


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