Sixth gay man said to have been killed

Barney van Heerden was found bound and strangled in his home Orange Grove home on September 19. Photo: Facebook

Barney van Heerden was found bound and strangled in his home Orange Grove home on September 19. Photo: Facebook

Published Oct 11, 2011


The Star has uncovered a sixth victim of a possible serial killer who is preying on gay men.

On Monday, the slaying in August of a gay man living in Northcliff, Joburg, was reported to The Star, and it bears almost all the hallmarks of the other killings.

He was a 47-year-old landlord who was discovered by his tenants bound and bludgeoned to death in his home. The tenant, who requested anonymity, said he and a group of roommates had arrived at the Northcliff home on the night of August 12 to find the entrance to his landlord’s cottage ajar.

They entered and discovered the bound body just a few metres away from the door. There was no sign of forced entry onto the property and freshly emptied beer cans were found on a dining room table.

“He was not strangled, although we speculated that maybe he tried to escape and he was hit over the head, which is why his body was so close to the door,” said the tenant.

The man’s car, phone and some clothes were stolen. The family of the victim requested that The Star not publish his name. Police, however, said all the cases would continue to be investigated separately.

After The Star’s exposé last Monday revealed four victims who died under strikingly similar circumstances, police refused to comment on the case until the end of the week, when another death was reported.

Outraged gay rights groups have requested a full investigation into the crimes, but national police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said the police would continue to investigate each case separately.

He was not willing to comment on a possible serial killer or homophobic gang being involved in the murders.

All five victims in The Star’s report were found in the past 18 months tied up and murdered inside private homes within the greater Joburg area – with the police recording no signs of forced entry.

Police working individually on all the cases believe the minimal theft means robbery was not a motive. It is believed the lack of break-ins may mean the victims knew their would-be killers and could actually have invited them in.

Four of the cases have occurred in the past five months, while the other two occurred in the past 18 months.

According to Dlamini, in one of the cases, two Zimbabwean suspects were identified as the perpetrators, but the police had still not arrested anyone.

Gay rights groups Mambaonline, Mr Gay SA and Cape Town-based Luleki Sizwe have approached the minister of justice’s recently established Hate Crimes Task Team in a bid for extra police attention to be given to the case.

However, no comment has been given by the team.

The most recent victim in the spate of murders, Barney van Heerden, 39, was found bound and strangled in his Orange Grove home on September 19. The murder was discovered by security guards, after they noticed his gate was open and his front door unlocked.

Four other reported murders bear striking similarities to Van Heerden’s case. In the first attack, in December 2010, Jim Cathels was found at his home in Berea.

In April last year, Manolis Veloudos was discovered in his home, bound and bludgeoned to death with his own laptop.

Four months ago, Oscar O’Hara, 33, was bound and strangled by an unknown assailant or assailants.

In September, Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo was also found bound and strangled in his home. - The Star

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