Cape Town - Family members of Zaheda Peters crammed into the waiting area of the Intensive Care Unit at the Medi-Clinic Vergelegen, praying for her recovery on Monday after she was shot in the head and shoulder by her cop boyfriend.
Police have confirmed that 44-year-old warrant officer Nevell du Toit, stationed at Macassar Detectives Unit, shot his girlfriend before turning the gun on himself in Strand.
At 4.50am on Monday, Du Toit, a dad of two, allegedly drove to Peters’ home in Dolphin Street and knocked on the door.
It is believed Peters – who also has two children – was in the shower at the time.
When she opened the door, the cop shot her in the arm.
The bleeding mother ran outside, frantically calling for help, and Du Toit raced after her.
He shot her in the head before fatally shooting himself.
Eyewitnesses described the scene as “shocking”. A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “I heard a woman screaming like she was being attacked and shortly after, two gunshots rang and that was the end. Then the police arrived. I saw the end result and it was not good.
“I saw one dead body, I do not know about the woman but the man was laying dead there,” he said pointing to the front of the house.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said the officer died on the scene and his 34-year-old girlfriend was taken to hospital.
An inquest and attempted murder case were opened for investigation.
Du Toit’s family are desperate to find out what drove him to shoot Peters and take his own life.
Du Toit’s twin brother, Neil, said the police officer never carried a firearm in all his time on the force and that he booked out the gun just hours before he shot his girlfriend and himself.
Peters was rushed to the hospital where she is now in a critical condition.
The couple, both divorcees, had been dating for two years.
Those close to the couple reveal Peters had recently ended the relationship, which may have sparked Du Toit’s violent reaction.
Neil says the family have more questions than answers.
“We have a lot of questions; we are in a state of shock,” he said.
“We do not have the answers.
There are rumours that he and his girlfriend had relationship problems or it could have been stress,” he speculates.
Neil said he last spoke to his brother on Sunday night and the cop seemed happy and calm.
“I spoke to him last night [Sunday] and he was in a calm mood. He just said he misses me and loves me,” he added.
“What went through his mind are the answers we do not have. He has been in the force since 1990, the saddest part is since then he never wore his gun.”
Neil says the family did, however, find letters from Nevell at the scene.
“He left letters that have given us some peace of mind,” he says without divulging the contents.
“He was really stressed,” is all Neil would add.
Meanwhile Peters’s family were anxiously awaiting the results of her second surgery.
The woman’s uncle, Noor Rhode, said doctors confirmed to the family that his niece was shot twice, once in the head and once in the shoulder by her boyfriend.
She had been in theatre since 10am, said Rhode. He said his niece worked at the University of Cape Town and is the mother of two children aged 10 and 8.
“It (the prognosis) sounds positive but it is obviously not in our hands so we do not know what the effect (of her injuries) will be.
“The last news we heard was that the first operation was a success.
“The next few hours will determine how her condition is. She was shot through the head and that is a major concern for the doctors,” Rhode said.
He explained that the family believed Peters broke up with the warrant officer last month and could not understand what would motivate him to shoot her.
Rhode said the family considered seeking legal advice, but the most important thing was being there for Peters as she went through her ordeal and pray for her.
“She is a very calm and very co-ordinated girl. She knew where she was heading and what she wanted out of life.
“Our biggest concern is that she pulls through for her kids who need their mom.”
He said the family had received overwhelming support from doctors and police.
Daily Voice and Cape Argus