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Two held after torture deaths of siblings

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northcliff murder

THE STAR

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

Johannesburg - Five years after Gary Smith and his sister Karen Buchanan were bound with rags and their mouths duct-taped before they were brutally assaulted, the police have made a breakthrough.

The siblings 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 were kicked.

And when their torturers had had enough, the 44-year-old man and his sister, 46, were both shot in the head.

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

For the past five years, no arrests were made.

And the motive for the attack was unknown.

However, just when the families of the victims – both Smith and Buchanan had been married and were survived by children – were to give up on the killers ever being found, police made a breakthrough.

Two men were due to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday in connection with the murder in the upmarket suburb of Northcliff on March 14, 2008.

Unconfirmed information is that one of the men was arrested in Durban while a second was nabbed in Mbombela.

Provincial spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini wouldn’t confirm where the arrests had taken place, but confirmed that two men had been taken into custody and that the arrests had happened two weeks ago.

“They have been charged with murder and there will be a formal bail application at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court tomor-row. This office may not disclose the names of the suspects before a bail application due to the sensitivity of the investigation,” he said yesterday.

The bodies of Buchanan and her brother were found by the domestic worker, who lived on the property. She stumbled upon the scene and alerted the police.

Detectives described the murder scenes as one of the most gruesome they had ever encountered.

The siblings had been tied up with rags, and duct tape had been pasted over their mouths. Buchanan was stripped naked, and it appeared that the killers had thrown darts at her brother’s body. Both had been beaten savagely.

Buchanan’s hands and feet were bound, her body was badly bruised, and there was a lot of blood on her hands. She was killed by a shot through the back of the head.

Her brother, who was equally brutally beaten, was shot in the mouth. The bullet wound tore away the top part of his face.

The double murder sent shock waves through Northcliff. People living in the same street claimed that a car had been heard hooting at the house at about 8pm on a Friday night.

Someone had come outside and let a car onto the property. At around 10pm, a few neighbours heard several gunshots and some screams.

One of the people interviewed told the police that he had seen a silver Mitsubishi Pajero speeding off with two men inside.

Around 1am, the domestic worker arrived home to find the gates and doors open. She went inside the house and ran outside screaming.

She rushed to the neighbours to tell them that the “missus” had been killed, and the police were called.

At the time of the murder, Smith had been living with his sister for three weeks, having returned to Joburg from the Northern Cape, where he had been working. The two did not have any other siblings.

After their death, their 71-year-old mother found it difficult to accept the murder and the fact that it went unsolved. She fell into a deep depression and stopped eating. Her relatives believe she eventually died of starvation.

botho.molosankwe@inl.co.za

The Star


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