Facebook ‘selfies’ could nail murderers

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One of the self-taken photos Lynette Smit discovered on her husbands Facebook page. She has identified them as the men who robbed and murdered him on Christmas Eve in 2012. Photo: Supplied


Johannesburg - Four men could soon be brought to book for murder – after posting selfies of themselves on their victim’s Facebook site.

Lynette Smit, from Rustenburg, North West, was still trying to come to terms with her husband’s murder when she discovered that the alleged perpetrators were posting pictures of themselves on her husband’s Facebook page.

Wentsel and Lynette had tried for 12 years to have a baby, and were ecstatic when they found Lynette was pregnant in 2012.

But their son was only two months old when Wentsel was shot dead in a house robbery on Christmas Eve in 2012.

The couple, who lived on a smallholding in Spruitfontein, Rustenburg, were watching Christmas programmes on TV before going to bed. The baby cried and Lynette got up to make his bottle.

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One of the self-taken photos Lynette Smit discovered on her husbands Facebook page. She has identified them as the men who robbed and murdered him on Christmas Eve in 2012. Supplied


“As I was feeding him, I had a feeling that someone was watching me,” she said. “I went to my husband in the bedroom to tell him I had felt like someone was watching me, and he told me not to worry because everything had been locked.”

Just after midnight, the couple heard a noise and found two men standing next to the bed.

Lynette said they shot her husband twice, in the shoulder and chest, and shot her in the chest. Her wound was a graze, and she sat next to Wentsel and held his hand while the four robbers in the house demanded cellphones and laptops.

All four men then left the house, but not before shooting the family’s five dogs dead.

“I held my husband’s hand and asked him to hold on, but I felt his hand go slack and I knew he was dead.

“We had waited for 12 years for a baby, and in the end he only had two months with his dad.”

A few days later, Lynette became aware there was activity on Wentsel’s Facebook page. Men were posting self-taken images of themselves with the stolen iPhone. They did not seem to realise the phone was synced to Facebook and that all their pictures were automatically being loaded onto Wentsel’s page.

Lynette started sobbing as she told The Star how she felt when she saw the men who killed her husband and shot at her posting their pictures on his page.

She reported the matter to the local police, but said officers seemed unable to trace the killers and bring them to book.

Community crime-fighting organisation eBlockwatch heard about the case and got involved.

Founder Andre Snyman said they formed a group of 100 people who used technology to identify the men. They were traced to Mozambique.

“We have a whole stack of information that we will now be giving to the police.”

Snyman said many criminals didn’t realise that phones linked to social network pages, and he believed the selfies were unwittingly made public.

National SAPS spokesman Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale said police would be handing the information to detectives so they could work on the case.

* eBlockwatch was also alerted about another case of criminals being identified on social media.

Graham Collett had his laptop stolen from his car at Cresta shopping centre in October. He had bought it from Deon Naudé, who installed an app that allowed him to remotely take over the laptop.

Naudé said someone, believed to be the thief, was watching inappropriate movies.

A few days later, he saw the man looking at his own Facebook page. Naudé made a screen grab of the page and was able to identify the man.

Snyman said the man had been traced to Maputo.

“He claims on his Facebook page that he is a student at the University of Johannesburg but our investigation has revealed that this is false.”


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