Victim's secret life came from cash crunch

By Karyn Maughan Time of article published Jan 23, 2003

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Only two weeks after financial desperation drove 22-year-old Sergio de Castro to accept work at Sizzlers massage parlour in Sea Point, the "loving and generous" would-be web developer was brutally murdered by unknown attackers.

Initially from Johannesburg, where he worked at Therapy nightclub in Braamfontein, De Castro had based himself in Cape Town for the last three years.

De Castro's friends, contacted by the Cape Argus on Wednesday, were all adamant that he did not have a drug habit - and not one said they had known that he worked at Sizzlers.

Close friend Andrew Thomas said he had been sorting through De Castro's possessions and had discovered that he owed a computer college about R13 000 for a course he had completed.

Thomas believes it was his need to pay that money that pushed De Castro to work at Sizzlers.

"He was obviously desperate for money to pay his tuition fees. He was working a day job at a coffee shop in town and wasn't really earning that much - at one stage he even approached the local laundromat to ask for extra work.

"I don't think any of his friends even guessed what he was doing at Sizzlers and he certainly never told anyone."

Sea Point businessman Mario de Biaisio became a close friend of De Castro's after they met at St Mary's Cathedral in Cape Town three years ago. It was he who identified De Castro at the Salt River mortuary on Wednesday afternoon.

According to De Biaisio, De Castro's childhood had been "very hard".

His mother had abandoned him and his father when he was three years old and he had lost his father at age seven. His 16-year-old half brother, Dane, born after his father remarried, was De Castro's only surviving immediate family member.

After being shunted from one relative to another, the little boy soon developed a need to be loved - one that would later define his life.

"Sergio was driven by a desire to be loved and maybe he sometimes looked for that love in the wrong places. He had enormous potential and it is tragic that the world has lost him," said De Biaisio.

He said De Castro had spent "hours" sending his CV to various companies in search of computer work, but was considered too inexperienced for jobs he applied for. "He was never really given a chance."

Stephen Wrankmore, an organist and choirmaster at St Mary's Cathedral, met De Castro when he started singing in the 11-member church choir.

"He was a tenor, but he really wanted to become a cantor singer and perform solo pieces. He loved music and, even though he often didn't have transport, he would always try to get to practices.

"Sergio had a wonderful sense of humour and lived life on his own terms. He would sometimes arrive for Mass looking very smart in a beautiful leather jacket and then, another time, he would wear a swimming suit and a sarong.

"He was a fantastic person and it hurts me very much that he is gone and that so many people will not know him for who he really was - that people will just remember him as a victim of this terrible event."

- A memorial service for the eight victims of the Graham Road killing will be held at the Holy Redeemer Anglican Church in Ilford Road, Sea Point on Saturday at 3pm.

The service has been organised by the Sea Point ANC, the Holy Redeemer Anglican Church, Equality Project, Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) and Triangle Project.

- The owner of Sizzlers, Aubrey Eric Otgaar, was buried on Thursday in Kraaifontein.

Two other men who were seriously injured in the attack on the house at 7 Graham Road are still being treated in Groote Schuur Hospital.

Hospital spokesperson Philippa Johnson said on Wednesday that the condition of one of the men admitted to the intensive care unit on Monday had "deteriorated" and he was on a life support machine. He was being visited by friends and family from time to time.

The condition of the other man, in his 20s, was stable.

Johnson said the two were under police guard.

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