Hands murder: my Facebook hell

By admin
21 May 2010

Julius Meyer (23) is big and muscular but he talks in a whisper. He has become used to hiding. After all, in the past two months it has been said he’s the guy responsible for the gruesome death of Anika Smit (18) of Pretoria whose hands were chopped off (YOU, 1 April 2010).

It all started with a throwaway - and unfortunate - remark Julius made on the social networking site Facebook. Now finally someone else* faces charges for the murder and he hopes the dark cloud that has hung over him will disappear.

The first thing he tells us is, “Let me assure you I definitely didn’t kill her. Our friendship wasn’t close enough for misunderstandings or arguments.”

Julius barely knew Anika; he’d seen her only twice. She was just one of his hundreds of Facebook friends but her death nearly destroyed him. And all because of a comment made out of frustration on his Facebook page.

“If a man stabs you in the back you cut his f*****g hands off!” he wrote in February. He was merely angry with a business partner. “I just meant if someone bullies you, you must stand up to them,” he says. But his words cost him dearly when Anika was murdered two weeks later.

Within days someone had spotted his Facebook entry and two days after that he got a call. “I’m not sure if it really was a journalist or whether it was someone’s idea of a joke,” he says.

The next morning he wanted to post a message to Anika on Facebook but when he logged on he saw messages of condolence because she’d died.

Suddenly there were messages on his Facebook wall accusing him of being a murderer. Within days people were circulating a photograph of him by e-mail, asking the public to help find Anika’s murderer.

Overnight he lost a lot of friends. And clients started to stay away from his restaurant.

“I called the police and offered to come in. They said I wasn’t even on their list of suspects. But according to thousands of people I was still a murderer.

“I won’t say it destroyed me but it was hell,” Julius says.

“I hope my experience helps someone. People must realise Facebook can be destructive and that it’s reckless to spread untested stories.”

* Nico Venter (20), a project manager at the Carousel Casino near Pretoria, has been released on R10 000 bail.

Read the full article in YOU of 27 May 2010

Original article - My child, mutilated

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