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Cape Town - The town of Fish Hoek was in mourning on Wednesday night after the slaying of a much-loved son, retired master builder Henri La Cour.
He was accosted and stabbed on the Trappieskop Trail, which ascends the southern end of the Kalk Bay mountainside to a saddle,
with a close family friend, a woman in her early forties, whose identity the Cape Argus has been asked to protect for her safety.
“He absolutely loved hiking – he’d go up into the mountains two or three times a week,” said close friend Kevin O’Donoghue, who is pastor at the Full Gospel Church in Fish Hoek, where La Cour was a parishioner.
Around 10.30am on Wednesday, La Cour and the woman friend, also from Fish Hoek, headed up the trail.
“At some point they stopped to rest and were attacked,” O’Donoghue said. “It seems he may have tried to stop the assailant attacking her – but it is not clear.”
La Cour, 72, was stabbed in the upper chest.
The woman fled to escape and seek help, back down the path to Godfrey Road, about 250m below.
A resident, who asked not to be named, told the Cape Argus: “She rang my bell. But by the time I answered she had run next door to my mother-in-law.
“She called me and I called 10111 and screamed for them to bring the police, bring an ambulance, bring everything.
“The police were here extremely quickly, as was CMR (a private paramedic service).”
Within a short while, a police chopper was circling, searching for the attacker.
Paramedics raced up the path to where La Cour lay, but he had died.
He was later identified by the priest, who said: “There was so much blood. It looked like he had been stabbed three times.”
One source said La Cour had been stabbed at least once in his heart.
“The whole village is shocked. I’ve been inundated with calls from all aspects of society,” O’Donoghue said.
“He was heavily involved in the Joyce Chevalier Centre for the Handicaped, which is a home for the disabled, which he helped build.
“He also built the ‘People’s Church’ Assemblies of God church in Sun Valley, and another in Constantia
“He also loved children, he had a real heart for them,” O’Donoghue said.
“Every morning, he would walk on Fish Hoek beach, where he would read his Bible and have a flask of coffee. He called it his quiet time.”
A resident on the scene after the murder said the woman’s hands had been covered in blood, but that she otherwise appeared unhurt. Her rings, including a wedding ring, had been stolen.
“She is very traumatised,” O’Donoghue said.
La Cour’s wife died around four years ago, as had the second of his three daughters. His other two daughters live in Australia. It was understood on Wednesday night they were due to fly to Cape Town at the weekend.
His sister, Odile Brink, head of the Joyce Chevalier Centre in Fish Hoek, said on Wednesday night: “If it had been a heart attack, it would have been different, but murdered!
“And just for the bracelet on his arm – evidently his little money bag and his cellphone were still in his pocket. It just shows how vulnerable we all are, how precious life is.
“Henri loved to hike in the mountains. He was so very energetic.”
One resident said it was known that men lived on the mountain, and he called for more patrols of the area.
Another resident, a woman, said: “I walk alone there all the time – but not any more.”
Sources said on Wednesday night four possible suspects had been captured on the mountain on Wednesday afternoon.