Linden murder accused killed in crash
Johannesburg – The Linden man who allegedly strangled his wife and quadriplegic son with a scarf, died in a car crash on Wednesday - only days before his murder trial would have started.
The silver BMW in which Ben Engelbrecht, 52, was driving collided head-on with a truck on the R54 in the direction of Vereeniging at about 07:50.
He died on the scene. The truck driver was not injured, said ER24 spokesperson, Vanessa Jackson.
According to police spokesperson Sergeant Teboho Lephoto, the truck driver said the BMW had been driving in his lane at a high speed. The truck driver apparently tried to swerve out of the way to avoid an accident, but the two vehicles still collided.
The deceased’s brother, Stoffel Engelbrecht, said on Wednesday that he and his other brother, Neels and their sister, Lynette Mann, were very sad and shocked. “We hope and pray answers will come.”
Stoffel Engelbrecht said his brother had “never been the same old Bennie” again after the deaths of his wife and son, but that there “were no signs that things had gotten too much for him”.
Ben Engelbrecht was out on bail. His trial would have started in the South Gauteng High Court on Monday.
He was facing a murder charge for killing his wife, Ina, 49, and son Kobus, 21, in their Linden home on May 27 last year. He tried to kill himself afterwards by gassing himself in the car but was found by his brothers.
He had been living with his eldest brother, Neels Engelbrecht, in Meyerton since January after being discharged from Sterkfontein psychiatric hospital, where he had been admitted for observation.
According to the Sterkfontein report, Engelbrecht showed no symptoms of depression and had no suicidal thoughts.
Neels Engelbrecht said he and Ben had still socialised on Tuesday evening before going to bed.
When he woke at about 06:30 on Wednesday morning, Ben had already left with Neels’s car.
Police informed them of his death at about 10:00.
The accident happened about 40km from Neels Engelbrecht’s house.
“We don’t know where he was going,” said Stoffel.
According to Ben Engelbrecht’s lawyer, SW van der Merwe, one of the State prosecutors in the murder trial had called him on Wednesday morning and said his client had “taken a car and driven off”.
Shortly afterwards Stoffel Engelbrecht called him and said his brother had died.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson advocate Mthunzi Mhaga said the case would probably be withdrawn in court on Thursday when a legal death certificate was handed in.
“Then all the legal aspects of this sad case will be over,” said Van der Merwe.
Ben Engelbrecht’s daughter Anlie van der Merwe, a teacher in Windhoek, could not be reached for comment.
At a memorial service for her mother and brother she had said she was angry about what her father had done, but she was not angry with him.
Stoffel Engelbrecht said on Wednesday that his brother and Anlie had had contact and were working on their relationship.
“What happened wouldn’t have broken the bond between father and daughter.”
Mann described her brother as a wonderful person who was going through a difficult time.