Sizzlers victims' families still seek closure

By Time of article published Jan 19, 2004

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Why? This is the question that haunts many family and friends of the nine men killed in the Sizzlers attack a year ago on Monday - and one they hope the upcoming Cape High Court trial of alleged murderers Adam Woest and Trevor Theys will answer.

In an attack that shocked even seasoned police officers, Aubrey "Eric" Otgaar, Sergio de Castro, Travis Reade, Timothy Boyd, Johan Meyer, Marius Meyer, Warren Visser, Stephanus Fouche and Gregory Berghaus were killed execution style in the Sea Point all-male massage parlour in the early hours of Sunday, January 20.

The men were tied up with rope, and some had their throats slit, while all nine were shot in the head with a single 7.65mm calibre bullet.

Berghaus, who was with De Castro in one of the salons when he was shot, died in Groote Schuur Hospital four days after the attack.

A professional prop stylist and antique collector whose work had appeared in a number of upmarket magazines, Berghaus had also trained at and worked for a world-renowned auctioneer company. Based in New York for the last 15 years of his life, his death was mourned by friends and family in both South Africa and America.

"I don't think we have recovered from what happened to Gregory. I find it hard to understand how people are able to forgive their children's killers, because I will never forgive them," said Gregory's mother, Fay.

Gregory was an "extraordinary man", she said.

"His friends regarded him as special, kind and generous and he had an exceptional eye for beauty. Gregory had the ability to walk into a room and make whoever he was speaking to feel special."

Fay, along with Gregory's brother Eugene and sister Shelly, remained by his bedside throughout his last days. "I miss his laughter and his voice the most," Fay said.

Gregory's family will hold a consecration service for him on February 1.

Stephanus Fouche was 17 years old when he was killed in the Sizzlers attack.

Speaking to the Cape Argus last week, his father Stephanus Sen, 48 - a building contractor from Theunissen, Free State - said the anniversary of his adopted son's death would be "quite tough".

"His birthday was also a very hard time for my wife and I. Stephanus would have been 18 on September 9 last year."

Fouche said his only son had told him in August 2002 that he wanted to go to Cape Town to look for work.

"He was always quite responsible and wanted to go out into the world and make enough money to look after himself. I didn't want to stand in his way."

Stephanus phoned his parents at six in the morning "every single day".

"We knew something was wrong when he didn't call. When I heard about the killings on the radio, I just knew Stephanus was one of the guys."

Fouche's worst fears were confirmed when one of his son's friends phoned to tell him and his wife Anita that Stephanus was indeed one of the Sizzlers victims.

"The way those men died was so senseless. If they were killed just for money, I would have given whatever money they wanted to have my son back again."

His son was polite, good-natured and "very good with computers", Fouche said.

"I don't know if he was working there as a masseur. He might have been fixing the computers.

"Whatever Fanie was doing there, I have always been very proud to call him my son and I always will be."

Sergio de Castro's half brother Dane, one of the would-be web developer's only living relatives, was 17 when de Castro - who had only been working at Sizzlers for two weeks - was killed.

Dane said he was glad he had the opportunity, four weeks before Sergio's death, to visit his half brother.

"It was really nice. We went to the beach and also ice-skated. We had fun together."

De Castro's cousin Ricardo Afonfo described Sergio's life as a "Shakespearian tragedy".

"He lost and was abandoned by so many people that his whole life became a quest for love - and sometimes I think he looked in the wrong places.

"One thing that really amazed me was how many friends he had that cared about him - they were really his family."

The manager of Barracks massage parlour in Sea Point, who wanted to be named only as Ken, had known a number of the men killed at Sizzlers, among them Timothy Boyd and owner Aubrey Otgaar.

Boyd, who formerly worked at Barracks, was a "well brought up" and "down to earth" young man who had been making plans to leave the massage parlour industry when he was killed, Ken said.

According to Ken, Otgaar was an "extremely straightforward" man who had battled, like himself and Barracks owner Peter, to keep his business "drug free".

"Eric and I were not best friends, but respected each other and worked together to keep drugs out the business. It's been difficult not to have someone to bounce ideas off and I do miss him."

Ken said the Sizzlers killings had provoked widespread fear in the Sea Point massage industry and had resulted in Barracks initially losing three-quarters of its total staff component.

"For the nights after it happened, when nobody knew who was responsible for the killings, myself and the guys who worked here would lock ourselves in the lounge. It was very frightening."

After having to identify Boyd's body and facing the daily threat of another attack, Ken said he was "still trying to recover" from the impact of the massacre.

"I have tried to understand what the motivation was, but I still can't get my mind around what happened - maybe there are just some things you can't understand."

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