Senseless killings and brazen art heists
The year 2012 saw some of the most horrific crimes in South Africa, and as the year comes to an end, we take a look at some of the most brazen crimes committed in and around Pretoria.
One of the crimes that stood out and made people gasp, was a shooting at a law firm in Centurion.
The shooting was triggered by a multimillion-rand business deal that went sour.
Martin van Deventer, 65, from Cape Town went on a killing spree that left three people dead before he turned the gun on himself.
The drama unfolded at the offices of Du Randt Richards Attorneys in Centurion.
What started as an ordinary business meeting between two attorneys and their clients, quickly turned into a murder scene.
Van Deventer asked Louis du Randt’s clients – Johan Griesel, Pieter Erasmus and Willem van Heerden – if they were going to give him his money back, but the answer he got was not what he expected.
“He asked them if they would give him his money back in monthly instalments, but my clients said they could not give it to him as they did not have any,” said Du Randt.
The deal revolved around Mayborn Investment 75, a company owned by Griesel and Erasmus, which was supposed to build Villa Valley Residential Estate. Van Deventer was the owner of the land on which it was to be built.
It is believed the shooting was triggered by the failure of Mayborn Investment 75 to pay for the use of the land in monthly instalments as had been agreed. Du Randt said that during the meeting Van Deventer stood up and walked to where the three were seated.
“He took out his gun and shot them. He then told his lawyer to go and stand by the door, and I asked him if I could go as well, but he calmly told me to sit down. He paced around the room and then went back to the bloodied bodies and shot them a second time,” Du Randt said.
“He then turned around and looked at his attorney and said: ‘Please look after my wife and sell my boat’,” Du Randt said. After that, Van Deventer put the gun in his mouth before pulling the trigger.
Another daring crime was the robbery of paintings worth R17.5 million from the Pretoria Art Museum. The paintings were stolen by three men who pretended to be an art lecturer and two students.
They paid the R10 entrance fee to get into the museum and, while inside, they were said to have tied up an employee. They then produced a “shopping list” of the artworks they wanted while allegedly holding the employee at gunpoint.
The robbers then proceeded to take Irma Stern’s Fishing Boats (1931) valued at R9m, Gerard Sekoto’s Street Scene (R7m), Maggie Laubser’s Cat and Petunias (1936) valued at R1m, Hugo Naude’s Hottentot Chief (R300 000) and Pierneef’s Eland and Bird (1961) valued at R45 000.
The robbers left one painting by Irma Stern behind as it was too big to fit into their getaway car. The painting, Two Malay Musicians, is valued at about R12m.
Four of the five paintings were recovered undamaged by the Port Elizabeth police. The paintings were found underneath a bench at a Dutch Reformed church in Sundridge Park.
Gerard Sekoto’s Street Scene was not among the paintings recovered. Police spokeswoman Brigadier Marinda Mills said the paintings were discovered by a member of the K9 Unit who had received a tip-off from one of his contacts.
“The officer was contacted by an informer in the morning. The member went to the cemetery and found the paintings in a small private cemetery in Sundridge Park, behind the Dutch Reformed church,” said Mills.
Tshwane mayoral spokesman Pieter de Necker said the robbery had a chain reaction worldwide as many museums had called them to find out what had happened and to check on the security measures they had in place.
“We are looking at improving security at the museum during trading hours,” he said.
Then came the stabbing of a Grade 10 pupil by a friend, following an argument over a pencil.
This led to the death of a 16-year-old pupil at a city school after he was allegedly stabbed by a friend five times in the chest, back and arm.
It was alleged the pair had an argument in class at Berea Park Independent High School and the quarrel continued the following day.
A pupil at the school said Donald Molefe was attacked by a fellow pupil during second break and stabbed five times in the upper body.
Another pupil, Lefang Sebothoma, was also stabbed in the arm when he tried to stop the fight, and was taken to hospital. Donald died on the scene shortly after paramedics arrived.
“They started arguing in class and continued during the second break when they were outside. Donald was stabbed a number of times,” said the pupil.
The learner added that the pair were friends, and other pupils were surprised when they saw them fighting. Donald’s devastated mother had to be escorted by teachers who held her as she went to view her child’s body, which was covered by a foil blanket.
School principal Izak Theron said none of the teachers witnessed the incident, and they were alerted only after Donald had been stabbed.
“All we know is that the fight was about a pencil, and when we got to where the incident took place, we found Donald lying on the ground,” said Theron.
He said the school was shocked by the incident, and they were surprised about how the suspect managed to enter the school premises with a knife, avoiding detection at the gate, where pupils were routinely searched.
“We do regular searches at the gate, so he must have smuggled it in somehow,” said Theron.
Also on the list of brazen crimes, has to be the murder of former cricketer Louis Vorster.
Vorster, 46, a former Namibian and South African domestic cricketer, was shot dead at a filling station in Muldersdrift.
A bag was removed from his car during the shooting. Police at the time said the contents of the bag were still unknown.
The cricket world was in shock following Vorster’s death with many speaking highly of the man they considered an all-round sportsman.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Jacques Faul said it was a very sad day for Southern African cricket.
“Louis did a great deal for cricket, both in South Africa and Namibia, where he played for and coached the national team.
“In the South African context, he was the first top player to come out of the North West area and he and his father, a leading coach at Volkskool Potchefstroom where Louis went to school, were pioneers in making cricket the popular sport it is at Afrikaans-medium schools today.
“On behalf of the CSA family, I extend our deepest sympathy to his family,” said Faul. Former teammate Joubert Strydom said he was very sad to have lost a teammate and a friend who always gave his all in everything he did.
“He was a very loveable guy. He made sure he did his best and gave 100 percent in everything he did. This is a major loss to the cricket fraternity,” said Strydom.