Cape Town - The knifeman who killed a Fish Hoek man was on the run on Thursday as the victim’s anguished daughters and grandchildren prepared to return from Australia for his funeral.
Fish Hoek was in mourning on Wednesday night after the slaying of 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 family friend, a woman, whose identity the Cape Argus has been asked to protect for her safety.
On Thursday, his younger daughter, Natalie Moffat, told the Cape Argus from Sydney, where she is a photographer: “It’s going to be terrible arriving at Cape Town International Airport and, for the first time, not being met by my father. He was such a loving father, a great grandfather, he’ll be surely missed by all of us.”
Making the sad pilgrimage back to Cape Town would be Moffat, her husband Ryan, their sons Dexter and James, her sister Brigitte Kolbe, and her daughter Claudia, both from Tasmania.
“He was so wonderful with children in particular,” Moffatt said. “He was involved in the children’s church – always helping families in need. There has been an incredible outpouring of condolences from Fish Hoek. I spoke to my father yesterday morning, about two hours before the attack. He had had an epileptic fit two Mondays ago, but he told me yesterday: ‘I’m feeling 105 percent fit for the first time!’”
But at around 10.30am South African time, her father had been murdered. “He absolutely loved hiking; he’d go up into the mountains two or three times a week,” said close friend Kevin O’Donoghue, a pastor at the Full Gospel Church in Fish Hoek, where La Cour was a parishioner.
Around 10.30am on Thursday, 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, said: “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 paramedic service).”
Soon, 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 have been inundated with calls from all aspects of society,” O’Donoghue said. “He was heavily involved in the Joyce Chevalier Centre for the Handicapped, 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 otherwise she seemed unhurt.
Her rings, including a wedding ring, had been stolen.
“She is very traumatised,” O’Donoghue said.
La Cour’s wife died about four years ago, as had the second of his three daughters.
His sister, Odile Brink, head of the Joyce Chevalier Centre, 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.”