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28 July 2011 at 12:20 - Posted by Anonymous

Shooting parts blissful newlyweds


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Sandpiper Village in Quellerina was the scene of a brutal attack in which Steve van Heerden was shot dead and his wife held hostage during an armed robbery.

Steve and Elena van Heerden had been married a mere three months. The couple had hardly settled into married life after an autumn wedding in Parys, which had brought much joy to the families of the 35- and 36-year-old, before tragedy struck.

On Tuesday night, Johanni Badenhorst, Elena’s sister, received the call that everyone most dreads from emergency services.

Steve was dead and Elena was traumatised after being kept captive and terrorised for more than an hour.

At about 8pm, five men had cut through the couple’s electric fence at their home in Quellerina, Roodepoort, and climbed over the wall.

Moments later, when the group were discovered by the couple, one of the men shot Steve in the head, killing him instantly. Then the men tied up his frantic wife and began to ransack the house.

“But they barely took anything,” said Badenhorst, surprised that they had not taken more of the couple’s electronic items and other valuables.

Elena was threatened and told to open the home’s safe, but after seeing there was nothing inside, the men left.

“Physically she’ll be fine, but (Elena) is distraught,” said Badenhorst, who will be looking after her sister until she recovers.

Badenhorst said her sister had been too upset to say much about the incident, so some details were still unclear.

Police spokeswoman Captain Lydia Mtila-Dikolomela said:

“She is completely traumatised. We had a counsellor at the scene, but she will receive further treatment.”

According to Mtila-Dikolomela, the men had made off with a laptop, a handbag, the couple’s wallets, wedding rings and Steve’s pistol.

Investigations had not determined if Steve had been wielding his pistol at the time of the murder, and it was still not clear if the men had all been armed.

No one has been arrested and it was not clear yesterday how the five men had gained access to the couple’s new home, a unit in a small townhouse complex.

“We’re all in shock. His family, his mom and dad are not okay. We’re just trying to hold it together,” said Badenhorst.

On Wednesday morning, Steve’s brother, Hennie van Heerden, arrived at the couple’s unsettlingly quiet home.

Accompanied by his sister and wife, Hennie said the criminals had struck because they knew when Steve and Elena would be outside the house.

“They were feeding their dogs – the same time every night,” said Hennie,.

The three Van Heerdens had been waiting for forensic analysts to arrive at the scene to continue their investigation.

A teary-eyed Hennie told The Star that police had informed him that Steve had been shot immediately and left to die in the front garden, while his sister-in-law had been dragged inside.

“How can you describe someone like Steve? He was always helping other people, he donated to charity and was always there for us,” he said.

“All I want is for the police to catch these guys and bring them to justice. They are animals.”

Steve worked as a mining engineer.

The family requested that pictures of the couple not be published until they had consulted with Steve’s grieving wife. - The Star

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