Durban - The owner of an Umhlali wedding venue was protecting his guests when he was shot dead in an armed robbery at the weekend.
Marius Deyzel died from a gunshot wound inflicted by a firearm - believed to be a shotgun - during a robbery at Maroupi Wedding Venue on Saturday night.
According to Alpha Security’s Rex Hunt, Deyzel - who would have turned 62 on Wednesday - had attempted to shield his brother and two couples from four assailants who robbed them at gunpoint. Hunt said Alpha got the call just after 9pm.
“The gardener heard the shot, went out and saw the deceased lying by the pool, then went and hid and SMSed one of the ladies there who then called me,” said Hunt.
The guests were tied up and forced into one of the buildings.
Hunt said the assailants had demanded to know where the safe and guns were, but got away only with cellphones, money, jewellery and cameras.
With the Umhlali police K9 unit, Alpha went on the hunt for the perpetrators through sugar cane fields but after about a kilometre the trail went cold.
“We suspect they got into a getaway vehicle,” said Hunt.
This was the third farm robbery in the iLembe area in recent months, leading Hunt to believe a gang was involved.
IPSS medical rescue/security spokesperson Paul Herbst said Deyzel’s guests were assaulted and the perpetrators were armed with the shotgun, a handgun and a baton.
Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said Umhlali police were investigating.
The murder shocked residents of Umhlali, which is mainly farms with a growing residential area. Tammy Colley, a ward councillor at Ballito, said there had been an increase in crime in these areas as well as at Salt Rock.
“In Ballito and Salt Rock the community has really rallied and the security companies and police are working together and standing up to say enough is enough,” she said.
Neighbour Pierre de Charmoy had met the Deyzels, who bought the venue three years ago, just last week. “I don’t live on my farm so I hadn’t met Marius since they got here,” he said.
Over about 50 years, De Charmoy had seen owners come and go, using the farm for different types of business. Most recently, it had been a backpackers’ before Deyzel turned it into a “stunning” conference and wedding venue.
“We spent about three hours together walking through the venue. It’s beautiful, he really put a lot of money and his back into it.”
De Charmoy, a 1980s pop singer, had spoken to Deyzel about hosting a fundraiser at Maroupi. “He invited me back to talk about it over a braai. It’s devastating that three days later he’s gone. He was a lovely man and very proud of his property.”
They had spoken about security, knowing their isolation put them at risk. “He was happy with his security company and, like us farmers, had a few lines of defence; security cameras, alarms and electric fencing.”
The perpetrators had gained access to the property by cutting a hole in the electric fence.