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Red rose for a murdered son

Published Jan 14, 2012

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Whispering softly, a Limpopo mother, allegedly gang-raped, mutilated and tortured, bent towards the grave of her murdered son, kissing a blood red rose before softly dropping it on to her child’s cherry wood casket.

“Goodbye my son. Goodbye. Mamma will always love you.”

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Attacked last week allegedly on the orders of her estranged husband Johan Kotze, Ina Bonnette yesterday bid a poignant farewell to her son Conrad.

Allegedly tied to a bed in Kotze’s Modimolle home and then raped by three labourers hired by Kotze to remove trees, Bonnette was apparently forced to listen to Conrad beg for his life before he was executed with a single gunshot to the back of the head.

The alleged motive: jealousy and revenge.

Surrounded by friends and family, Bonnette, who gave the Saturday Star permission to publish her name and pictures, was supported by her parents and close friend, Barries Badenhorst, as her son’s coffin was lowered into the ground.

With thunder rolling overhead, the heavens opened up as hundreds of mourners flocked to Warmbad Hervormde Kerk to bid farewell to Conrad.

Battling to fight back the tears, Bonnette shook uncontrollably as she sang the first hymn, her eyes never wavering from a smiling picture of her son projected above the pulpit.

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Dabbing her eyes as she hugged her teenage daughter, Angelique, closely, the two gently stroked a picture of Conrad on the funeral letter.

The letter brought tears to mourners’ eyes. It read: My dearest child, I have no words. My feeling of regret was deep which at times went away but my sadness and longing for you my son will be forever. I will remember you forever. Prepare a lovely garden where you are now, it will be a place for us to meet again my son. You will always be remembered and will be sadly missed. Love mommy.”

With a photo and video slideshow of Conrad’s life playing images of birthday parties, family reunions, school adventures and holidays, mourners openly wept as his best friends gathered to carry his casket from the church to the lyrics of one of his favourite songs, Ek sal nie bang wees nie.

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Earlier, Conrad’s grandmother, Levina Swanepoel, had nothing but venom for Kotze.

“He must never see the light of day. He must never cross my path,” she said from the side of her grandson’s grave.

It emerged yesterday that Conrad’s name was on a “hit list” drawn up by his stepfather, Kotze. Bonnette was allegedly made to beg for his life shortly after his mother, Ina, was apparently gang-raped by three workers and mutilated in the attack, said to have been orchestrated by Kotze.

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Kotze, believed to be driven by jealousy of his stepchildren, narrowly missed killing Bonnette’s daughter, Angelique, 16. She was rushed to safety by her father, Rex Bonnette.

It is believed that the alleged hit list contained the names of more than 20 people close to Ina Bonnette.

According to Bonnette’s close friend, Barries Badenhorst, whose name is also on the alleged list, the piece of A4 paper was found on Kotze’s dining room table hours after the attack last Tuesday.

Found with it were dozens of photographs, allegedly of the homes and workplaces of Bonnette’s family, friends and colleagues.

Limpopo police spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said: “We are deep into the investigation and do not want to comment on it or anything else until the case is over,” he said.

Swanepoel, who saw Conrad two days before his death, said she would miss his laugh, smile and jokes. “Only God will be able to help us now. Only He will be able to get us through this,” she said.

Angelique, whose brother’s death has left her numb, said she missed him. “He was the best brother. He was my hero.”

For Conrad’s father, Rex Bonnette, the death of his son was too much to bear.

“What do I say? What do I do? How do you survive something like this? I am numb. I have no words for Kotze. I feel nothing for that man. No hatred, nothing. I will forgive, but it is God who he must meet in the end. It is God who in the end will give retribution.”

Kotze made a brief appearance in the Modimolle Magistrate’s Court yesterday morning.

He and his co-accused who cannot be named as he has yet to plead, face 17 charges including assault, sexual assault, conspiracy to rape, murder, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and rape.

Their appearance came as members of the task team assigned to hunt down Kotze swooped on a Hammanskraal house, arresting a second rape suspect.

Protesters, who included farmers, business owners, housewives, victims of domestic abuse and ANC Women’s League members, held up posters calling for Kotze’s death and for him to be denied mercy as he had shown no mercy.

State prosecutor Renier van Rooyen told Magistrate Hannes Stoffberg that both Kotze and his co-accused had applied for Legal Aid.

Stoffberg remanded both into custody until their next court appearance on February 10, 2012.

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