Cape Town - A group of youngsters high on tik followed Inge Lotz from Stellenbosch University to her nearby flat, where they planned to rob her.
But when they got there, one of them looked through her kitchen window, saw a man hitting her and the group ran off in fright.
The youngster had seen her being murdered. This is according to private investigator Christian Botha, who briefly probed the case and identified a suspect.
The Cape Times contacted Botha after new media reports on the murder investigation surfaced recently.
But he says a contaminated crime scene, the youngster who was an unreliable witness and the inability to gather enough evidence to secure a conviction have resulted in her murderer going free for years.
Lotz, 22 years old at the time and a Maties student, was found bludgeoned to death in her Stellenbosch flat on March 16, 2005.
A few months after her murder, Fred van der Vyver, her boyfriend, was arrested and stood a lengthy trial, but was later acquitted.
Botha said Van Der Vyver’s father had hired him when Van Der Vyver was charged with Lotz’s murder.
“Our investigation was to establish who the killer was… We had our suspicions, but it was very difficult to prove. We couldn’t gather enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt,” he said. “But I think we’re right on the person involved.”
Botha said through his probe, he established that on the afternoon of Lotz’s murder a group of “youngish people involved in drugs” had planned to rob her at her flat.
On that afternoon, they had followed her from Stellenbosch University to the complex she stayed in. But Botha said when the group got there, Lotz was already being attacked.
“When one got to the door, he looked through the kitchen window and saw the person hitting her… They just ran,” he said.
The group had not known Lotz’s murderer and had accidentally stumbled upon the attack.
Botha said the man who had seen Lotz being beaten had been about 20 at the time and was traced to Pollsmoor Prison, where he was serving time for housebreaking. “This specific person said he saw the person (who killed Lotz) in court.”
Botha said the witness to Lotz’s attack and the others he had been with outside her flat had been high on tik at the time and would therefore not have been reliable witnesses in a trial.
He said he had not been provided with a big budget when tasked with investigating the murder, as Van Der Vyver’s family had been saddled with various other costs.
Van Der Vyver was acquitted of Lotz’s murder in November 2007 when Judge Deon van Zyl rejected all aspects of the State’s case, which was criticised for shoddy police work.
Top detective Piet Byleveld, a retired police brigadier who has solved some of the country’s most controversial murder cases, took on a commission nearly a year ago by Lotz’s parents to probe her killing.
Around the same time, Lotz’s parents offered a R1 million reward for information leading to the killer’s conviction. A few days ago, asked whether a suspect had been identified or if there was progress in the case, Byleveld replied: “All I can say is that I’m still busy with the investigation.”
On the Facebook page “Justice for Inge Lotz”, users voiced their belief that an acquaintance of Lotz’s “knew more than he was letting on”.