A late night drive by a Limpopo mother, desperate to get her two young sons to sleep, led to the arrest, “through God’s guidance”, of elusive murder suspect, Johan Kotze.
On the run for eight days, Kotze, 50, who allegedly masterminded his estranged wife’s rape and mutilation and the murder of her son, was finally caught on Wednesday after his luck ran out.
Kotze, a meat distributor, wept as he was taken from the police station, passing a jeering crowd of locals who had gathered, to a local clinic for treatment.
His arrest came after police from the Hawks Tactical Operations Management Services arrested one of the suspected rapists during a raid on a house in Makapanstad near Hammanskraal in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
With police swarming through Modimolle while a helicopter circled overhead, Kotze was arrested as he walked through a suburb on his way to a friend’s house.
He wanted help after apparently injuring himself following a high-speed chase on Tuesday night while escaping from the authorities.
It was in Modimolle on Tuesday last week that Kotze hired three men on the pretext of removing palm trees from his house.
But he allegedly held the trio at gunpoint, forcing them to rape his estranged wife, before he apparently mutilated her with pliers, screwdriver, nails and a grinder.
Kotze is also said to have forced the woman to listen as he allegedly made her 20-year-old son, a Pretoria University computer science student, beg for his life before executing him with a single gunshot to the back of the head.
Police roped in the help of Interpol as they tracked the suspect across the country,
Kotze was arrested after Surinda du Preez spotted his SUV on Tuesday night as she drove through the town trying to get her toddler sons to fall asleep. “At a stop street I saw a white Toyota Fortuna with Free State number plates. I became suspicious, but was scared and drove on.”
Afraid he would escape, Du Preez began searching for him.
Driving around the suburb she eventually spotted his vehicle parked in a darkened corner at Duggans Supermarket.
Stopping outside the entrance, she stared straight into Kotze’s eyes as he bought a coke, 10l of water, Powerade energy drinks and two tins of bully beef.
“I went cold. I couldn’t move or breathe. I just stared at him and then the panic hit me.
“I tried to reverse as quickly as possible. That is when he saw me and realised I had spotted him.”
Racing to a police friend’s home, Du Preez screamed for help.
Taking nearly 30 minutes to convince police she had seen Kotze, officers eventually began searching for him, blocking off streets, setting up cordons and radioing for back-up from national units.
Du Preez’s husband, Anton, and her brother-in-law, Werner du Preez, alerted community police members.
With intimate knowledge of disused 4x4 routes around the town, the two began searching backroads, eventually spotting a light from the boot of Kotze’s car, which he had crashed and abandoned.
“It was God’s guidance that led them to the car,” she said.
“They came to a fork in the road and didn’t know which way to go. Suddenly Anton got a feeling and started driving down a dirt track and that’s when he saw the light. If it hadn’t been for God he wouldn’t have found the car.
“That man would never have been caught. He would still be out there,” she said.
Police, who raced to the area, seized Kotze’s vehicle, recovering blankets, clothes, newspaper clippings of his alleged crimes, money and a gas bottle he had used for cooking.
Searching the area, police discovered a camouflaged hideout Kotze had allegedly been using.
Broken branches, empty water bottles and packets of food, discarded pieces of toilet paper and plastic were evidence of where Kotze had been hiding out.
Hours before Kotze’s arrest, police, heavily armed community police forum members and farmers were seen swarming through the Drie Hekke farming area using sniffer dogs and specialised trackers to try to locate the suspect.
Friends of the estranged wife said she was extremely emotional.
“This has been extremely tough. None of us are coping. Even if he has been arrested, which we are extremely glad about, it won’t change anything. A young boy has been murdered and his mother mutilated and raped.
“This monster must be made to pay. He must be made to suffer like she will for the rest of her life,” they said.
Police spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the suspect, who is being held at Bela Bela police station for his safety, will appear in the Modimolle Magistrate’s Court along with the alleged rapist on Friday.
The two face charges of rape and murder but additional charges can be added as the investigation progresses, he said.
“He is incarcerated now and detectives are interrogating him before his court appearance.”
Hangwani said more arrests were imminent.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the remaining suspects can call Lieutenant-Colonel Simon Mohale on 082 565 8606. - Pretoria News