Pals held for siblings torture deaths

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northcliff killing THE STAR A domestic worker who worked for Karen Buchanan at the time of her murder in 2008 still has nightmares about the gruesome killing. Photo: Dumisani Sibeko

Johannesburg - The two men arrested for the brutal torture, murder and robbery of Northcliff siblings Gary Smith and Karen Buchanan were allegedly friends of the duo.

According to the domestic worker who lived on the property at the time and stumbled upon the gruesome scene, the two men, who were due to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, used to visit the house often.

In fact, the day after the murder in March 2008, they allegedly arrived at the house to offer their condolences.

The identities of the two cannot be revealed until they appear in court.

Smith and Buchanan were found dead at her 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, and two were killed and the other two kicked.

northcliff murder Gary Smith was shot in the head after being tortured alongside his sister in Northcliff, Joburg, in 2008. Photo: Sizwe Ndingane THE STAR

And when their torturers had had enough, they shot the 44-year-old Smith and his 46-year-old sister. Smith was allegedly shot through the mouth while Buchanan was shot in the back of the head.

Their bodies were found by the domestic worker, who lived on the property.

When the crime was discovered, police found that their cellphones were smashed, a TV was missing and the safe was broken open. And the motive for the attack was unknown.

After a five-year investigation, the police arrested the two men two weeks ago.

The domestic worker, who did not want to be named, said she was told of the arrest last week by one of Buchanan’s neighbours. While the arrest opened wounds, they also left her in shock.

“When I was told the names of the people who were arrested, I was shocked. Those people were friends of the deceased and they used to go to the house all the time.

“Even the following day after the murders, they were at the house, crying with us and offering us condolences,” she said.

Soon after the murder, she said, one of the men was arrested, but was later released due to a lack of evidence.

“I have been asking myself all these years who could have done that terrible thing,” the woman said.

Since discovering the scene, the domestic worker, who still works in the area, has been unable to get the images out of her head.

And she isn’t the only one. A neighbour who was one of the first people to rush to the scene when the domestic worker called for help was also badly affected by what he saw.

The neighbour, who declined to be identified, said he thought he had seen terrible things while in the army – until he saw Smith and Buchanan.

“I was traumatised and still am. I can’t even talk about it. I tried counselling, but it does not help, and I realised that I had to work on that on my own. It will take a long time before it gets better.

“I thought I had seen terrible things in the army, but this is far worse, there is nothing like it. The arrest won’t make it all go away from my mind, but we want the people who did this to be brought to justice,” he said.

The two men arrested are believed to have been arrested in Durban and Mbombela.

Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said the two men faced murder charges and were expected to apply for bail.

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