Cape Town - A new male suspect has become the focus of the Hawks investigation into the 2005 murder of Stellenbosch student Inge Lotz, with sources revealing that detectives are expected to interview him and his friends soon.
The Hawks team, led by top detective Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Barkhuizen, became involved in the investigation in the past week. The team also includes a brigadier in charge of the police’s forensics department.
Hawks spokesman Paul Ramaloko has further revealed that they are also searching for two Xhosa-speaking women who arrived at the murder scene at 10pm on March 16, 2005 – shortly after Lotz’s body was discovered.
“They cared about Inge and her well-being, and wanted to know if she was okay. We don’t know who they are, but we know they are not criminals in the case,” he added.
The Hawks have appealed to the public to help them find the two women.
“This information will not take us one step further, but two steps further (in the investigation),” Ramaloko said, confirming that Barkhuizen was leading the investigation.
Barkhuizen has been described as a contract-killing expert with a high success rate and more than 30 years’ experience in the police.
He helped crack the murder of Swedish-born Anni Dewani, who was killed in Cape Town in 2010 while on honeymoon with her new UK husband Shrien Dewani.
Extradition proceedings against Shrien, believed to be the mastermind behind her death, are still pending, but the men he allegedly hired to carry out the attack are all serving terms in prison.
Barkhuizen also investigated the murder of music icon Taliep Petersen in 2006. Petersen’s widow Najwa was sentenced to 28 years in jail for the killing.
In addition he investigated the Sizzlers gay massage parlour massacre in 2003, in which nine men were murdered.
Meanwhile, the brigadier, who is to work hand-in-hand with Barkhuizen and the rest of his team, has an international profile and is viewed as South Africa’s most high-ranking forensic expert.
The Hawks have asked that the brigadier not be named, but the officer is known to have played a leading role in several high-profile cases, including the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble and the kidnap and murder of Bond University student Leigh Matthews.
The brigadier was also a leading member of a South African team dispatched to identify tsunami victims who washed up in the Maldives.
Their bodies had floated 1 000km from South East Asia to the Maldives.
Their findings were sent to the tsunami international identification centre.