The ‘conquerer’ conquered

2011-01-22 00:00

HE stood over her like a “viking conqueror”, grinning while she cowered in a foetal position in the corner of the dinghy in which he had raped her while tied to a buoy in Durban’s harbour on the night of March 28 1996.

This description is contained in the 1998 evidence of a 25-year-old student when describing her rape ordeal at the hands of recently extradited rapist, Swiss national, Hans Joachim Klaar (47).

At the time Klaar was married with two children and the victim had a boyfriend.

The victim was introduced to Klaar the night before the rape at the home of a mutual friend who knew his wife.

That fateful evening she went to Durban’s Bat Centre at Maydon Wharf to meet her boyfriend, but didn’t find him immediately.

“I handed in an essay that day for my honours degree and I had spent the afternoon with friends celebrating that we’d completed this paper,” she testified.

She saw Klaar seated at Funky’s bar and he offered her a drink. “You expect to be friendly to foreigners,” she said. They shared travel experiences.

Klaar twice suggested they go out on his dinghy in the harbour which she didn’t find strange as she knew he and his family lived on a boat.

“I felt a bit pressurised, but I was fine with it,” she said.

But once moored in the middle of the harbour this changed.

When Klaar first kissed her she did not object and did not immediately reject his advances. But when she told him to stop he did not.

The woman described how he had raped her using his strength to hold her down while she was on her knees and causing her to scream. At one point during the encounter he stood over her “like a conqueror”, grinning while performing a sexual act.

“I felt — it was a fleeting thought — if someone can do this they must want to kill you because I don’t know how anyone can get away with something like this,” she told regional magistrate Hamilton Cele.

“No one has ever violated me and no one has ever not listened to me saying no … if they’re capable of doing that, they’re capable of doing anything...”she said.

Afterwards in a state of “shock and fear” she steered the dinghy to shore herself, her only thought being to get back to safety, she said. “My whole body was shaking ... I could see him out of the corner of my eyes looking at me, grinning.”

As she jumped back on land she didn’t look back, but heard her attacker ask sarcastically if he would see her again. “I didn’t turn back and I heard him say, I guess not.”

Klaar denied he’d had full sexual intercourse with the woman, but claimed she willingly participated in other sexual acts.

He believed she’d cried rape because she had a conscience because he was married.

AFTER evading justice for more than a decade, Hans Klaar arrived in South Africa on December 14 to serve his six-year jail sentence, a year after being arrested (in response to an Interpol alert) in New Zealand.

State advocate, Korne­ Radyn, negotiated tirelessly from December 2009 to secure Klaar’s extradition in terms of the New Zealand Extradition Act as no treaty exists between that country and South Africa. Klaar is in fact believed to be the first person to be extradited from New Zealand to SA.

Klaar is serving his jail term in a Pietermaritzburg prison.

ACCORDING to an interview with Hans Klaar published by James Baldwin on Atomvoyages.com he reveals that Klaar, a Swiss national, lived and cruised aboard boats from the age of eight when his father, Ernst, gave up his career and bought one-way tickets to Thailand for himself, his wife and three children.

Baldwin writes that he first met Klaar in Richards Bay.

“I had heard so many stories, true and doubtful, about her skipper Hans Klaar (referring to Klaar’s catamaran Rapa Nui), that he seemed larger than life. Indeed there was hardly a port in the entire tropical Indian ocean this cruising trader and treasure hunter had not visited several times over,” he said.

Klaar’s father had been obsessed with finding the Santiago, a Portuguese galleon laden with gold and silver that was wrecked in the Mozambique channel in 1484, wrote Baldwin. With only rudimentary diving and salvage gear the Klaars set out to find the treasure ship and succeeded against all odds.

“Fourteen-year-old Hans discovered the wreck when he spotted some coral encrusted ships’ cannon protruding from the reef.”

The Natal Museum later bought some of the artifacts recovered.

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