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‘There’s a dead man in your driveway’

Johannesburg - A bizarre triangle of evidence surrounded a man’s death in Hartbeespoort on Tuesday morning

A body was found hanging from a tree in a garden by a thin orange piece of nylon string. The victim’s car had crashed into a tree down the road and had been abandoned. An empty wallet was found lying at a third location about 50m away.

At first the incident on the Hartbeespoort Road in North West looked like a double attempt at suicide: the man had crashed his car trying to die, and then hanged himself when he failed.

But the empty wallet pointed to something else – a possible car chase, an attack, and a man strung up against his will.

Cliff Lindemann, on whose property the man’s body was found, was waiting for his staff to arrive when there was a knock on his front door.

It was 7.20am.

“There’s a dead man in your driveway,” his gardener said.

The man’s car had hit a tree on the main road.

Lindemann said there were skid marks on the road and the bumper, headlights and bonnet were smashed. But the tree was not big enough to do major damage to the car. “(The tree) wasn’t enough reason for a suicide really,” he said.

Even the tree from which the man was hanging didn’t make sense because the branches were thin.

He started calling all the emergency numbers he knew, trying to get help.

“I was in such a state,” said Lindemann.

As he waited for the police to arrive, he could hear the man’s cellphone ringing inside his car.

When police arrived they scoured the scene, and found the man’s empty wallet and a shoe print.

The body had been discovered by the daughter of Lindemann’s domestic worker.

At 11am today Lindemann was waiting to collect the girl from school, hoping to take her for counselling.

“I’ve lived in this place for 32 years,” said Lindemann.

“The only crime we have ever had is two stolen sheep.”

North West police spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane confirmed there had been an incident this morning but could not give any details by the time of publication.

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