‘Hor­rific find may be our rel­a­tives’

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - SAKHILE NDLAZI

FOUR North­cliff, Joburg, family mem­bers were ner­vous and highly ag­i­tated as they ap­proached the scene where the dis­tinct out­line of three burnt bod­ies lay smoul­der­ing in the veld in Cen­tu­rion yes­ter­day.

They re­luc­tantly walked to the patch of ground where the bod­ies had been found, cir­cling the dark patch of blood­stained ashes and con­doms.

They in­tently looked for clues and any­thing that could give them an idea of the iden­ti­ties of the de­ceased or any­thing that could point to them as the rel­a­tives who went miss­ing on Sun­day evening.

Po­lice spokesper­son Lieu­tenant-Colonel Kay Makhubele ex­plained to them the only way to ver­ify the iden­ti­ties and see if they were family mem­bers was through DNA tests.

“The bod­ies are burnt be­yond recog­ni­tion and there is noth­ing that po­lice can work on ex­cept for DNA tests,” he said.

“We are wait­ing for foren­sics to iden­tify the gen­der and the age of the de­ceased,” he added.

The family told the po­lice that they feared the charred re­mains be­longed to their loved ones.

The grue­some find of the three bound, gagged and burnt bod­ies was made by se­cu­rity per­son­nel of a neigh­bour­ing hous­ing es­tate.

The Cop­per­leaf Golf Es­tate work­ers went into the veld to in­ves­ti­gate a grass fire around 8am, and upon close in­spec­tion saw the bod­ies and called paramedics.

When the paramedics got there, they were able to see that the vic­tims ap­peared to be two adults and a child.

“When we heard that the three bod­ies had been dis­cov­ered in Cen­tu­rion, we kind of al­ready had an idea that some­thing may have hap­pened,” said Fuad Pa­tel.

Pa­tel said three family mem­bers, a 56 year-old man and two women, aged 54 and 22, were kid­napped from their home in North­cliff on Sun­day evening. The kid­nap­pers fled in the family’s Mercedes-Benz, he said.

“When I heard that three bod­ies were dis­cov­ered in a field I nearly fainted,” he said.

“What keeps me hope­ful is that my miss­ing cousin’s cell­phone is still on and ring­ing,” he added.

Po­lice of­fi­cers at the scene said they were treat­ing the deaths as sus­pi­cious.

They urged any­one with in­for­ma­tion on the crimes or where­abouts of the sus­pects to come for­ward to as­sist the po­lice in their in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“At the mo­ment, we don’t have any ideas…

“We don’t know who they are, but we are ap­peal­ing to any­one who might have any in­for­ma­tion fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of three bod­ies to con­tact the po­lice im­me­di­ately,” Makhubele said.

ER24 spokesper­son Rus­sel Meir­ing said they could see that the bod­ies had been bound, gagged and burnt.

But he added that the ac­tual cause of death would be de­ter­mined only by a post­mortem and a law en­force­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The po­lice and foren­sic per­son­nel were at the scene soon after the bod­ies were found, cor­don­ing off the area and comb­ing the veld for clues.

“The bod­ies were burnt so badly, the only thing vis­i­ble was one pair of legs,” Makhubele said.

Nu­mer­ous pack­ets of used con­doms were also found at the scene.

Splat­ters of blood were vis­i­ble, along with burnt tyres.

Pa­tel said he would brace him­self for any­thing today when he went to the mor­tu­ary to iden­tify the bod­ies.

Some com­mu­nity mem­bers were reel­ing in shock at the news of the grisly find.

“Who­ever was out there, who­ever did this, you don’t want them back on the streets,” Michelle Naudé said.

“But noth­ing at this point is go­ing to bring them back,” she added.

He­len Maz­ibuko said: “We are shocked, to say the least.

“We are sad­dened that such a heinous crime has been com­mit­ted here.

“We are hoping the po­lice will in­ten­sify their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

A shocked Re­nee Man­ning said: “What is hap­pen­ing in this coun­try?”

My miss­ing cousin’s cell­phone is still ring­ing

PIC­TURE: THO­BILE MATHONSI

CRIME SCENE: Blood­stains mark the scene where the charred re­mains of three peo­ple were found bound and gagged.

KID­NAPPED: Two of the North­cliff miss­ing family mem­bers.

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