Dogs hunt Wild Coast killers

Cops comb area around ‘death chalet’ in search of missing murder weapon

Sergeant Songezile Katikati and his German shepherd tracker dog comb the area on Wednesday around the scene of a brutal killing and stabbing at Hluleka Game Reserve.
Sergeant Songezile Katikati and his German shepherd tracker dog comb the area on Wednesday around the scene of a brutal killing and stabbing at Hluleka Game Reserve.
Image: Lulamile Feni

Late on Wednesday afternoon the police’s K9 unit dogs and their handlers from Mthatha were scouring the bushes around the Hluleka Reserve chalet where Karen Turner was brutally killed and her husband Matthew stabbed several times.

The dogs, led by handlers sergeant Songezile Katikati and constable Buyisile Makhosonke, spent an hour searching for clues to the vicious attack.

Earlier Karen’s distraught brother, Ian Crouch, said he had spoken to Matthew, who told him there had been “two intruders” in the chalet in the early hours of Tuesday.

The slaying has left the KwaZulu-Natal couple’s one-year-old son Hayden without a mother.

Karen, 31, was three months pregnant at the time of her death.

Although police spokesperson Captain Dineo Koena did not know what the dogs were looking for, police at the chalet were heard saying they were searching for the knife used to stab the couple.

My parents are not fine. They are taking huge strain

Police top brass arrived at the head of a team of detectives at the Hluleka death cottage at 10.15am.

Eastern Cape deputy commissioner of crime detection Major General Zithulele Dladla was shown around inside the chalet.

Workers looked on as Dladla, detectives, Hluleka Nature Reserve manager Nikelwa Tom and East Cape Parks and Tourism regional manager Vuyani Mapiya inspected the crime scene.

Chalet number 1 in Hluleka Nature Reserve was taped up and forlorn. Crime tape was strung from the balcony to around the the family's Toyota Rav SUV, and then around trees and back to the chalet.

One staff member, who asked not to be named, said: “This has left us terrified. We have never seen something like this.”

Matthew‚ 33, who is in a stable condition in ICU at a Pietermaritzburg private hospital‚ told Crouch they were attacked in their sleep at around 3am on Tuesday.

“They were attacked by two intruders. He was woken up by being stabbed in the stomach and my sister screaming as she was being stabbed at the same time by the other person‚” Crouch said.

Matthew‚ an Underberg dairy farmer‚ and Karen‚ a locum teacher, had booked into the reserve on Monday.

The couple’s friends‚ also dairy farmers from KwaZulu-Natal‚ had booked into a neighbouring chalet.

Crouch said his brother-in-law told him that he did not know the motive for the attack.

“Nothing was taken. They didn’t demand anything. They didn’t ask for money. They literally came up and stabbed him and my sister.

“He [Matthew] thinks they left because he managed to get up and fight a bit. He thinks because of the resistance they left. They didn’t have time to take anything because he had chased them out.”

Crouch said his nephew was asleep in a cot in the room near the stairs.

“My nephew is fine. He is two years old so he doesn’t really know what has happened.

“He is with his grandparents and aunt. My parents are not fine. They are taking a huge strain.”

Crouch dismissed speculation on social media that a domestic incident led to the stabbing.

“I am very close to them. We spend a lot of time with them. There is no way that domestic violence is even a possibility.”

“I know where the confusion has come in.

“The friend that was staying in a neighbouring chalet reported to the reserve’s employees that he heard a commotion.

“They [people on social media] turned that into him hearing an argument when he really heard people screaming‚” he said.

The friend had then gone to investigate.

“My sister and her husband recently moved into the main house on the farm.

“They had just done it up and were excited about it.”

Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency CEO Vuyani Dayimani said staff were traumatised and were being provided counselling.

Workers and villagers from near the reserve said that the killing had left them confused.

Many were commenting on the official statement that there was no sign of forced entry.

“What does that mean,” said one worker. “Was it locked from the inside?”

Nyandeni mayor Mesuli Ngqondwana added his voice, expressing regret about the loss of Karen’s life and saying the killing was hurting the image of the area in relation to tourism and its safety.

"We wish to say that we have always known our tourist destinations as a safe haven and we have statistics that speak to that.

“We [however] wish, at the current stage, to reserve comment and allow SAPS to get to the bottom of the incident," he said.

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