A BENONI man was murdered on Friday by an armed gang in his home – the same house that Charlize Theron grew up in.
The Oscar-winning actress’s mother also shot her father in self-defence in the same house in 1991.
The man who was killed last week, Barry Newland, also ran his business from the premises on Seventh Road, Rynfield. He repaired and sold cars.
Newland’s girlfriend, Joy Preft, said he had left her house on Friday, the morning he was murdered.
“I said ‘goodbye, I’ll see you later’,” said Preft.
Five robbers had gained access to the property by pretending to be interested in viewing one of Preft’s cars, said police spokeswoman Lieutenant Nomsa Sekele.
The domestic worker at the house had let them in as Newland had not yet returned, according to Preft.
The gang had waited for him and held him up when he returned from Preft’s house.
They forced him inside the bathroom, where his hands and feet were tied up and a plastic bag was put over his head.
The thugs had left him to suffocate, said Sekele.
While the robbery was in progress, the gardener and domestic worker were forced into another room and were also tied up.
Newland’s friend, Chris Ehlers, denied police statements that Newland had been tortured.
Sekele said Newland was burnt with cigarettes and a clothes iron, but Ehlers denied this and said there were no burn marks on the body.
A title deed search confirmed that the property had been transferred into Charles Jacobus Theron’s name in 1980.
Ehlers and another person in the area also confirmed that Charlize had grown up in the house.
In 1991, Charles was shot by her mother Gerda after he had allegedly returned home drunk and threatened to kill the mother and daughter with his shotgun.
In an interview with ABC News in 2004, Charlize said the drunk man had fired the gun into her room before Gerda shot him with a handgun.
Gerda was never prosecuted for the shooting, which was believed to have been in self-defence.
The house was “turned over”, with drawers pulled out and cupboards ransacked, according to Ehlers, who is following the case as he is also a private investigator.
The police said they believed only a cellphone had been stolen, although Preft said several items had been taken, including a laptop, two cameras, an iPod and a gold chain.
No arrests had been made, and the police are investigating murder and robbery.
Newland was warmly remembered by those who knew him. “Barry was bigger than life, everybody knew Barry,” said Preft.
A friend of Newland, Johan Swart, said his friend was “such a good guy”.
Swart said he was going to move into the house on the Friday, but that rain had made him change his plans.
“Barry had a big heart, he was always helping people,” said Ehlers.
Theron’s publicist could not be immediately reached for comment.
Ehlers asked anyone with information about Newland’s murder to contact him on 083 799 1139.
Alternatively, contact the Crystal Park police station at 011 969 4880/4888, or SMS an anonymous tip-off to 32 211.