Counselling for witnesses of firecracker suicide

2017-01-18 16:42
Jurg Wolfaardt's covered body lies in a passage at Family Court. (Hanti Otto, Netwerk24)

Jurg Wolfaardt's covered body lies in a passage at Family Court. (Hanti Otto, Netwerk24)

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Pretoria - A Pretoria widow who applied for a protection order against a man who was harassing her, was left traumatised when she saw him kill himself by putting a firecracker in his mouth and light it.

“My client is deep into her 60s. It happened right in front of her,” Adele Smith, her lawyer, told Netwerk24 on Tuesday.

The woman was at the Family Court in Pretoria on Monday morning, to have a protection order against Jurg Wolfaardt, 76, ratified, when he killed himself.

Smith said her client and Wolfaardt’s paths crossed when they were neighbours in the Western Cape.

About two years ago, he apparently started harassing her with SMSs and phone calls, presumably of a suggestive nature.  

Protection order

Smith did not want to elaborate on the application for the protection order, but did confirm that despite the woman moving to Pretoria, the harassment continued.

“My client couldn’t handle it anymore,” said Smith.

She obtained a provisional protection order from the police against her former neighbour. Police served the notice on Wolfaardt and he had to respond before Monday, when the two parties had to appear in court. 

Wolfaardt filed an answering affidavit and the case would have been postponed on Monday for the woman to respond. 

Smith said the two had never had a relationship. She said her client was at the court on Monday, before she arrived.

“She was waiting for me in the passage. Wolfaardt was also in the passage. I don’t know exactly what had happened, because when I got to the scene, Wolfaardt had already died.” 

According to a statement by Tshwane Metro police, who have an office in the building, the incident happened around 08:00. 

According to them, Wolfaardt put what witnesses described as a firecracker in his mouth and lit it. 

The explosion at the top of the stairs on the second floor was heard outside the building. No one else was injured. 

Carpet removed

On Tuesday, pieces of blood-drenched carpet were removed from the area where Wolfaardt died. There was a heavy smell of disinfectants. 

Court cases resumed, also for those who were turned away on Monday following the suicide.

Counselling was arranged for those who saw Wolfaardt’s death. 

Lawyers discussed the case as they stepped over areas where the carpet had been removed. 

“They say at first it looked as if the man wanted to light a cigarette. So he came to the court with those explosives,” one of them speculated.

Another added: “It was planned as if he wanted to get at the client.”

Smith did not want to comment on Wolfaardt’s motive.

“I don’t know why he did it. It will probably always remain a mystery,” she said. 

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime

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