Durban - The stillness of Arbuthnot Street in aManzimtoti on Wednesday morning belied the brutal murder of 84-year-old Lorraine Roberts, who had been stabbed in her modest family home – apparently for little more than copper piping.

When the Daily News arrived, there was an air of tranquillity in the leafy, tree-lined street on a hill overlooking the sea.

A fleet of police cars parked outside Roberts’s home was the only sign that something was amiss.

But inside the house was a different scene: household items lay strewn across the floor, a mattress was pushed up against the wall of one of the bedrooms and the geyser had been hacked apart, causing its contents to spill into the bath.

Her lifeless body lay in a heap on the floor, in a pool of blood, partially buried under a pile of clothing and linen.

Her nephew’s wife, Lynette Hichens, was there.

She had found Roberts a few hours before and spoke about how she had made the grisly discovery.

Hichens was visiting – as she has done every morning for several years – to bring Roberts her meals for the day and to do chores around the house.

Entering the house that morning, she immediately knew something was wrong.

She said despite the fact that Roberts never drank, the smell of liquor permeated the house and the home had been “ransacked, from top to bottom”. “Not a thing was left unturned,” she said.

At first, Hichens was unsure what exactly had happened, but when it occurred to her that a break-in had taken place, her concern mounted. She began walking through the house, calling out for Roberts but said she was nowhere to be seen.

Eventually, Hichens stumbled upon the elderly woman’s body in the spare room.

A slight person, Roberts was barely visible amid the chaos and Hichens did not see her there at first.

“I had to look twice,” she said. Roberts’s face was covered, in part, by a piece of cloth.

It did not appear as if it had been placed there on purpose, Hichens said, but rather as though it had fallen on her. Hichens said she removed the piece of cloth. “And I could see she wasn’t alive.” Roberts had been stabbed in the stomach.

A frantic Hichens ran outside, where she found officers from a local security company who helped her contact the authorities. Hichens, who lives close by, was visibly shaken.

She said the violent nature of Roberts’s death had left her completely unsettled and likened the incident to an act of terrorism.

On Wednesday, it looked as though little more than copper piping had been taken from the house.

Police spokesman, Major Thulani Zwane, said eManzimtoti police were investigating a case of murder.

“The motive for the killing is unknown at this stage and no arrests have been made,” he said.

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