Northcliff accused ‘offered condolences’

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northcliff killings

Tiro Ramatlhatse

The ex-wife of Gary Smith leaves the Johannesburg Magistrates Court. Picture: Tiro Ramatlhatse

Johannesburg - She was crying outside the house where her husband and his sister had been tortured and murdered, when a strange man approached.

 

Putting his hand on Lynette’s* shoulder, he looked straight into her eyes and said: “I’m so sorry for your loss.” This happened just after Gary Smith and his sister Karen Buchanan had been found dead at the latter’s Northcliff home five years ago.

They were bound, gagged, beaten, had their teeth pulled, and darts were thrown at Smith, while Buchanan was stripped naked.

Their four dogs had apparently tried to protect them. Two were killed and the other two were kicked. And when their torturers had had enough, they shot the 44-year-old man and his sister, 46.

Smith was allegedly shot through the mouth, while Buchanan was shot at the back of her head.

On Thursday, at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, Lynette shook so much when she saw Kenneth Schroder, 53, and Paul Mundel, 39, walk into the accused’s dock. She remembered Schroder as the man who had touched her shoulder, offering his condolences.

In court on Thursday, his hair was unkempt and his sunglasses were hanging out of the pocket of his white shirt. Schroder and Mundel were in court to apply for bail, but one of the lawyers who had initially taken on the former withdrew from the matter for ethical reasons.

As Lynette looked at the pair, her sobs intensified and she held on to her new husband.

“When I was initially asked to take over this matter, I was asked to do so by a State witness. I then made a formal application to withdraw as Schroder’s attorney,” said Junaid Mohamed.

State prosecutor Nerissa Muller and Mundel’s lawyer Piet du Plessis indicated that they were ready to proceed with the bail application, but Schroder’s new lawyer said he was not ready.

Hendrik Potgieter said he had been ready to proceed, but there was some information he had been required to follow up on. The matter was stood down until Friday.

Before court started, Schroder’s girlfriend had seen the crying Lynette and assumed she was Mundel’s relative.

Holding her thumbs, she looked at Lynette and whispered: “They will be okay, they will be okay,” not knowing that it had been the crying woman’s husband and sister-in-law who had been killed.

When the matter was adjourned, Schroder’s girlfriend went to Lynette to introduce herself. Holding out her hand, she said: “We haven’t met, I’m Kenny’s girlfriend”.

The fuming and crying Lynette, however, was having none of it.

“I don’t want to meet you,” she said. “Your boyfriend took my children’s father.”

With tears still running down her face, Lynette said it was not easy looking at the suspects as they got into the dock. “My first thought was ‘They are big guys, Karen and Gary stood no chance’.”

The bail application was to continue on Friday.

* The woman’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

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