Elderly Eastern Cape couple torn apart by wife’s death in violent home invasion

Martha Snyman and her husband David were attacked in their Rowallan Park home on Saturday morning
LIFETIME TOGETHER: Martha Snyman and her husband David were attacked in their Rowallan Park home on Saturday morning
Image: Supplied

Injured, afraid and unable to pick his wife’s limp body off the floor, an elderly Port Elizabeth man set out to find help following a traumatic robbery at their Rowallan Park home at the weekend.

David Snyman, 76, did not know then that the love of his life, Martha, 83, was already dead — and that for the first time in 47 years he was alone.

The childless couple’s life was ripped apart in a few fleeting but terrifying moments —  Martha was killed in broad daylight for two cellphones and some cash. 

They had been inseparable for almost five decades.

The brutal home invasion occurred at about 10am on Saturday in Maasdorp Street.

Martha hit her head and lost consciousness  when she was shoved into a wall by the intruder.

A family member said Snyman kept asking why his wife, a “good and God-fearing person”, had to die so violently.

Snyman had been sipping tea in the living area after breakfast while Martha relaxed in her bedroom — a typical Saturday morning for the couple — when the peace was shattered by an intruder, who entered through the back door and attacked Snyman.

Martha had rushed to her husband’s aid when she heard the commotion.

But the robber violently pushed her into the wall, causing her to hit her head and slump to the ground unconscious.

She died on the scene.

The attacker escaped with the two cellphones and an unknown amount of the couple’s pension money. 

Police are investigating.

Martha’s niece, Lynette Ferreira, said her uncle was severely traumatised.

“He has been so sad since the incident,” she said.

“He keeps asking why his wife had to die like that when she was such a good and God-fearing person.”

Ferreira was called to the scene shortly after the attack. 

With no cellphones and no landline in the house, an injured Snyman had limped to his car and drove to Ferreira’s cousin’s house to seek help. 

“She [Martha] was lying on the floor and he couldn’t pick her up by himself, so he had to lock her inside the house and drive to my cousin in Fife Avenue [in Rowallan Park] in his condition.

“I was then called by my cousin,” Ferreira said. 

The couple lived alone.

Ferreira took Snyman into her Overbaakens home on Saturday, with plans to move him into a retirement home today. 

She said he had lost contact with his family years ago. 

“We had to take him in for his safety because he is also frail and suffers from diabetes so he can’t live alone or take care of himself. 

“He was reluctant at the idea of living in a retirement village, but we have convinced him to just try it out because he’ll at least have someone to take care of him there,” Ferreira said.

She said Snyman had been struggling to come to terms with his wife’s death

“It’s always just been the two of them, you know.

“They would go to the shops together and kept to themselves a lot.

“He’s worried about his future without her, especially because they have never had any kids,” Ferreira said.  

The Snymans’ house was locked on Sunday morning.

Shaken neighbours said the two were friendly and mostly kept to themselves. 

Keith Varnfield, who lives close to the Snymans, said: “It’s a terrible incident and what’s worse is that it was around 10.30am and we were all up but did not hear any commotion, we just saw police and noticed something was wrong. 

“This is generally a quiet neighbourhood and nothing really happens here.

“They were a very private couple.

“We would see each other and exchange greetings in the street, maybe on their way to the shops, but they mostly kept to themselves,” Varnfield said. 

His wife, Wanda, said she had been in her garden around the time of the attack, but had not heard anything unusual.

“It’s such a scary thing to happen in broad daylight so close to us.

“It could have happened to any of us because on a typical Saturday morning we are relaxed and our doors are open for fresh air,” she said.

“I mean, I was in my garden at the back around the same time.

“One never expects to be attacked in your home like that.”

Ferreira described her aunt as a humble woman. 

“Much like her husband, she did not care for material things.

“They both just lived a plain life and were God-fearing people.

“That’s what has hurt [David] so much.

“He keeps saying that his wife has never hurt anyone and had no bad word to say to anyone so he doesn’t understand why this had to happen to her.” 

Colonel Priscilla Naidu said police were investigating a case of murder and house robbery.

She said the suspect entered the house through an unlocked door and confronted Martha in the passage, pushing her head into the wall.

“The woman fell and died at the scene,” Naidu said.

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