Durban - A high-flying businesswoman with luxury homes across the country has been found dead in Durban, soon after neighbours heard a muffled gunshot and screams.
Rose Bell’s boyfriend, a metro police officer, has been arrested in connection with her death and was expected to appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
The body of the 32-year-old mother, a former taxi boss who owned other businesses, was found in her plush Durban North home late on Tuesday with a bullet wound in her lower abdomen.
A neighbour, who requested anonymity said that just after 10pm, “I heard a muffled shot and three screams. Then it all went dead”.
Metro police confirmed on Wednesday the officer had his service pistol with him at the time of the shooting. He was off duty at the time.
Ginnahbeebee Govender, 63, told the Daily News from her Phoenix home last night that she got physically ill when she saw the bloodstained carpet in the lounge of her daughter’s Terence Place home. “There was so much blood. It broke my heart to think how the life had gone out of her, how she had suffered.”
Govender said Bell’s friends had called her at about 1am on Wednesday, telling her there had been an accident and Bell had been hurt.
“I thought she was in a car accident and was in hospital. I wanted to go see her but they told me I could not because she was dead.”
She said Bell had been dating the officer for five years. “God didn’t take my child, he took her life,” said the distraught mother.
Police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, said the 44-year-old suspect was being held at the Greenwood Park police station where a case of murder was being investigated.
However, the Daily News has learnt that the case has been taken over by the Independent Police Investigations Directorate (Ipid) after the officer allegedly claimed the shooting was accidental. Ipid spokesman, Moses Dlamini, could not be reached for comment.
A well-placed police source said the officer had claimed Bell had taken the gun and was shot when he tried to grab it back from her.
Neighbours said the couple were together all the time. It is not clear, however, whether they lived together.
Bell’s oldest sister, Joelene Govender, said the couple would often come to Phoenix together to fetch Bell’s daughter who lived there with her grandmother.
Bell had opened 3D Alignment and Tyre Repair Centre, which operated from the garage and small front yard of her mother’s modest Phoenix home. She also apparently earned rental income from an upmarket Sandton townhouse and a villa on a private golf estate in the Cape west coast.
With this, she helped pay her mother’s bills and took care of her daughter, whom Joelene described as her mother’s best friend.
Bell’s ex-husband, Charlton Mario Bell, 36, described Rose as a loving and dedicated mother to their daughter. “She cried so hard when she was told. I have put her to bed after we sat talking about her mother,” he said on Wednesday night.
Charlton said his daughter would undergo counselling.
The former couple had married 12 years ago, while Rose was studying law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She dropped out and did a computer and bookkeeping course before landing a job that took her to Tanzania for two years, said Charlton. When she came back, they finalised their divorce.
Joelene described her sister as a loud and happy person with a kind heart. The youngest of the three sisters, she had studied law after matric, said middle sister, Charmaine Mackenzie, who flew in from Johannesburg to be with her family.
“We are hurting and angry as a family and want to see justice served for Rose’s senseless killing,” she said.