Screams for help before Wellington couple died in fire, private probe finds

By News24 Wire
28 June 2017

This included unexplained screams coming from the house, roughly six hours before the fire was discovered.

A woman was heard screaming for help three times inside a house in which a Wellington couple died in a bizarre fire hours later, a private investigation has found.

A private investigator is looking into the deaths of Sunita van Dyk, 31, and her husband Jacques, who burned to death on the Oakdene farm outside Wellington in the blaze which was discovered at 03:15 on May 10.

Jacques's family hired the private investigator.

The probe is looking into meetings Sunita had before her death: Her relationships - especially with someone said to have come across as obsessed with her - as well as letters, messages and telephone calls Sunita sent and received shortly before her death are under scrutiny.

On Wednesday, a source close to the matter told News24 that the private investigation had so far uncovered several strange factors.

'Screams'

The private investigator had taken down the statements of five people who said they had heard screams coming from the Van Dyk's home shortly after 21:00 on May 9.

These people had been on their way home from a meeting at a nearby primary school.

According to the source, one statement, and four other statements confirming the initial one, detailed the screams, which were heard about 60m from the house and from the road in front of it.

"They say there were three screams for help. It was a lady," the source said.

Read more: Wellington fire deaths: school principal could face conduct investigation

News24 understands that, to test if this was possible, a man was made to stand in the gutted bathroom where Sunita and Jacques died.

This man screamed "help" from the bathroom and, according to the source, he could be heard clearly from 60m away in front of the home.

Another area the private investigation was focusing on included WhatsApp messages on Sunita's cellphone, which were apparently missing.

An individual linked to the Van Dyks had also, according to the source, on the morning of the fire, asked police if WhatsApp messages could be "traced".

Puzzling factors

This was deemed a strange question, and now forms part of the private probe.

Another puzzling factor that emerged in the matter is that the couple did not appear to try and flee the burning home. Neither did their dog, Skollie.

Skollie's body was found in a passage.

Sunita and Jacques apparently did not try and get out the bathroom window - their bodies were found in the bathroom, with Sunita's flimsily clothed body in the bath.

Police are also investigating the matter as an inquest.

Read more: ‘Obsessive’ relationships probed in Wellington couple’s mysterious fire deaths

On Wednesday, police did not immediately reply to an email query asking whether they were aware of the statement made by the five people claiming to have heard screaming the night before the fire.

On June 13, police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana had said a forensic report was yet to be received.

An inquest docket into the deaths has been opened and it was determined that Sunita and Jacques died of smoke inhalation.

News24 understands that the forensic tests, which could be finalised within a few weeks, may reveal whether Sunita and Jacques had taken any pills before their deaths. Boxes of pills - one a type of sedative - were found on the scene after the fire.

Police previously confirmed that a post-mortem had found that Sunita had also sustained neck injuries.

The injuries, according to sources with knowledge of the case, were consistent with having been strangled.

Allegations

Three weeks before her death, it had emerged that Sunita was having an affair.

She had been a teacher at Paarl Gymnasium Primary.

Earlier this month, the principal of Paarl Gymnasium Primary, Danie le Roux, wrote a letter to parents about the matter.

Netwerk24 reported that he wrote that, in trying to mentor and help someone, he had crossed the line in terms of professionalism.

"Me and my wife allowed one of our staff members to come close to us at a personal and emotional level," Le Roux wrote.

Earlier this week Netwerk24 reported that Le Roux, in response to claims that he had had an extra-marital relationship with Sunita, said: "You can say and write whatever you like about the alleged affair, it doesn't concern us in the least. My wife and I aren't interested in speaking to the media any longer."

Source: News24 Wire

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