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Durban - William (Bill) Daly - whose family founded the iconic fruit cordial company W. Daly & Son in 1881 - was most likely on his way to deposit money for his church when he was murdered in the garden of his Morningside home.
Daly, 89, the last surviving son of the company founder, was found on Monday by his long-time domestic worker, Maureen Ngema. He had a rag tied around his neck and stuffed in his mouth.
His ankles had been bound with his shoes laces and his wrists were tied together with a key chain he normally had clipped to his belt.
The murder has shocked his neighbourhood and the Durban business community.
Ngema, 67, said she made the grisly discovery after noticing that the house she lives in on the property in Maple Road had been burgled.
Ngema, who has worked for Daly since 1985, said she had left the house at 4.30am for a check-up at Addington Hospital after a foot operation.
She arrived back at the house at about midday with her youngest son, Mandla, who worked as Daly’s gardener.
After making their way along the path on the side of the house and passing the dense foliage, they saw that the door of her living quarters was open. “The windows were broken and the burglar bars were bent aside. Inside, it had been ransacked,” said Ngema.
As she made her way back to the main house to tell her employer, her son inspected the premises before running to inform his brothers who work nearby, she said.
“He (Daly) didn’t answer the doorbell so I turned back.”
It was then, she said, that she spotted his body lying face up in the pathway leading to the back door of the property.
“I screamed and cried, I did not even get close, I could see it was him.”
Her screams alerted neighbour Clive de Vos. “I pulled him by the arm and showed him,” said Ngema.
Police spokesman Captain Khephu Ndlovu, who was at the crime scene on Monday, said Daly usually deposited his church’s Sunday offerings at a bank on Monday mornings.
“An already written-out deposit slip was found on him. He must have been on his way to the bank,” Ndlovu said.
Police suspect that robbery was the motive for the murder, as Daly’s pockets had been emptied and his bank cards, wallet, keys and ID were strewn on the floor, along with his panic button. It is unclear how the intruder/s entered the property, which is monitored by a security company, as the front and back entrances were locked.
Daly’s niece, Pat, arrived a few hours after the discovery of his body, from her home in Hilton, near Pietermaritzburg.
The narrow, secluded street was blocked by police cars and Pat was in tears as she walked into the house where her father, Dudley, who died in his sleep in December at the age of 98, had also grown up.
Neighbours and the police comforted Pat and Ngema as the two women sobbed. Mandla was also emotional.
“He (Daly) was like a father to me. Why did they have to kill him? He was an old man who did nothing bad to anyone,” he said.
De Vos said Daly was well liked in the neighbourhood.
“Everyone knew him, especially because of his vintage cars.”
He said Daly had stuck to a routine, doing certain things on certain days, which probably made him a “soft target”.
De Vos said crime was so rife in the area that after a year of living in Morningside, he had sold his house to move back to Johannesburg.
“I’ve had to hire a security guard. He comes in from six in the evening to six in the morning,” he said.
A few weeks ago criminals scaled his fence and told the guard he was interrupting their work, he said. “Luckily I came out and we were able to chase them away.”
Rose Boyle, who has lived in the area for almost 30 years, described Daly as “an absolute gentleman”. From her house in Anerley Road she would see Daly driving off in his vintage cars.
“Shocked does not begin to describe how I feel about what happened to him. I’m absolutely sick and horrified,” she said. “I can’t believe someone would do such a thing to an old gentleman.”
Another neighbour who did not want to be named said she was “gutted and angry” at the way Daly, whom she also described as a gentleman, had died.
“This is a horrible way for him to go. He was old and frail; there was no need to murder him,” she said.
Although she did not really know Daly, she, like many others in the neighbourhood, had noticed him because of his vintage cars which she said he kept “spick and span and was himself always smartly dressed”.
A case of murder and house robbery is being investigated by the Durban Central police.