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Robbed of lunch box and killed

Published May 18, 2013

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KwaZulu-Natal - A grey cloud hung over a New Germany scrapyard on Friday after the early morning killing of an elderly manager, whom staff fondly called “Mkhulu”, outside the premises.

Bill Sharman, in his early sixties, was the latest victim of violent crime in the Highway area.

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He was the father-in-law of Queensmead Scrapyard owner Walter Riggien and was shot dead by robbers as he crossed the road to enter the yard around 6.30am, employees said.

A devastated Riggien told The Independent on Saturday he had created a sales post for Scotland-born Sharman after he had been retrenched following about 27 years in banking.

“He was very much a people’s person and used to be a professional football player.”

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Riggien said his father-in-law came to work at the same time every day “like clockwork” and always carried a briefcase.

He added that he had heard while talking to police at the scene that a former employee, who appeared to have been in cahoots with the robbers, had advised them not to give Sharman a chance because he carried a gun.

However, they left him with his weapon, said Riggien.

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They stole nothing more than his lunch box.

While Riggien and his employees understood on Friday that a number of arrests had been made, police said only one suspect had been caught.

Spokesman Colonel Vincent Mdunge said he was 23 years old and would appear in court soon.

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Riggien, whose business has been robbed six times in four years, said his father-in-law’s murder was “a cue for me now to get out (of the scrap-metal industry)”.

Queensmead Scrapyard driver Sipho Mbambo said he was disturbed that a former employee was believed to be involved.

“Mkhulu was a good guy and a hard worker,” said Mbambo.

“We used to travel together a lot. We both loved sport and he was very open. We spoke about everything – politics too.

“He told me he had come from Scotland to Zimbabwe and then to South Africa. But he said South Africa was now not working.”

Mbambo also said workers at the yard were paid weekly, on Fridays.

Riggien added that Sharman’s son in Scotland had always been trying to get him to go back there.

“But he also loved this country.”

Sharman leaves his wife, Lyndsey, two sons and a step-daughter.

Blue Security managing director Darryn le Grange urged business owners and staff responsible for opening and closing offices and shops to be vigilant when arriving and leaving their offices.

“When arriving home or at the office always be aware of your surroundings.

“If you notice any suspicious individuals or vehicles lurking near your gate don’t risk an attack by opening the gate or walking outside.”

He advised people to rather make a U-turn so the suspects know you have seen them.

“You should then call your security company and ask for an escort.

“Criminals sometimes pose as visitors and are often well dressed, so don’t assume that someone ringing the bell at an office next door is harmless.

“Beware of repairmen, delivery staff and general workers near your business.

“Criminals often stake out properties before they stage a robbery,” Le Grange said.

He also urged business owners not to transport cash to the bank at regular times or at the end of the day.

“Criminals watch their victims and wait for opportune moments,” he said.

Le Grange said it was important for business owners to make security a lifestyle habit to reduce the risk of becoming a victim.

Meanwhile the hilltop scrapyard, diagonally opposite New Germany’s historic church, on Friday functioned on a skeleton staff with no cash transactions taking place on site, said Mbambo.

Nikki Mohlmann of the Kloof Community Policing Forum close to New Germany said the Sharman murder meant that there was “yet another widow in the Upper Highway”.

“It’s getting scary. How many more widows will there be?”

Mohlmann said that last night residents were on patrol with the police after an armed group, dressed in balaclavas, had held up a bed and breakfast in Jameson Crescent in Kloof on Thursday, having had to abandon a previous attempt on Wednesday night.

On both occasions alarms sent them away.

“This group is so brazen, they could try again tonight,” she said on Friday night.

Mohlmann pointed out that criminals were using the railway line between Manors in Pinetown and Kloof, which was difficult for security patrols to access.

Mohlmann also reported that on Friday night hijackers masquerading as beggars at the St John’s Road offramp from the M13 smashed a motorist’s window, then tried to grab her from her car.

“Thankfully she got away unharmed,” she said.

Independent on Saturday

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