‘She wouldn't hurt a bird’: Alleged acid killer’s brother speaks out

By Nadim Nyker
27 January 2017

The South African woman accused of a horrific acid attack on her Dutch ex-boyfriend in the UK was “kind, gentle and ambitious”, her half-brother says.

The South African woman accused of a horrific acid attack on her Dutch ex-boyfriend in the UK was “kind, gentle and ambitious”, her half-brother says, and “wouldn’t even hurt a bird”.

Yet the picture Dankie Joseph Mtimkulu (49) paints of Berlinah Madikeledi Wallace (47) is far different to the image her ex’s brother has of her.

“She is an evil woman,” Bartje van Dongen told Rapport newspaper. “The police have a strong case against her. There is evidence the attack was planned long before it took place.”

Berlinah’s ex-boyfriend, Mark van Dongen (29), died earlier this month after a 15-month long fight for life in a British hospital. He suffered burns to 83 percent of his body in September 2015 after sulphuric acid was poured on him as he lay sleeping. Mark also lost an ear, an eye, part of his lip and a leg.

Read more: ‘I’ll never forgive him’: man disfigured by complete stranger in excruciating acid attack

Berlinah now faces a murder charge – and her brother is shocked and devastated. He lost touch with her around the time the acid attack allegedly took place and found out she was in custody only after a friend told him about it.

Mark van Dongen died of his injuries. PHOTO: facebook.com/markvandongenrijsbergen Mark van Dongen died of his injuries. PHOTO: facebook.com/markvandongenrijsbergen

“[Before we lost contact] we used to talk all the time on the phone and WhatsApp,” he told YOU. “The last time we heard from her was on 23 September 2015 when she was on WhatsApp with my son, Vusi.”

Vusi passed away three days later, allegedly after being poisoned while playing pool in a local pub. Mtimkulu tried to contact his sister to tell her what had happened but couldn’t get through. They have had no contact since.

Mtimkulu, who works for the Gauteng Department of Education, was close to Berlinah when they were growing up in Sebokeng, Gauteng. “She just wanted a nice life – a great life. She was a wise girl. I’m really surprised about what she’s [allegedly] done because she was not someone who was violent. She was a good girl.”

Berlinah pictured with her mother, Thoko Elizabeth Mtimkulu (70) together in South Africa in 2010. PHOTO: Supplied Berlinah pictured with her mother, Thoko Elizabeth Mtimkulu (70) together in South Africa in 2010. PHOTO: Supplied

Berlinah moved to England in 1994 with her partner at the time, Ray Wallace, a UK national who had been residing in Randburg. She met Mark van Dongen, a civil engineer, when he moved to England in 2011 to study at the University of Bristol.

When they split Bartje van Dongen claims Berlinah searched the internet for information on how to disfigure someone with acid and “there is evidence she bought the acid”. Bartje said in Rapport Mark had told him and their father that Berlinah had pocketed the key to his home, returned when Mark was asleep and carried out her attack.

Mtimkulu finds it difficult to get to grips with Bartje’s version of events. When his sister was dating Mark Berlinah would tell him they were going to travel to Holland to visit his parents – now it’s all come to this.

“I’m worried, she’s my young sister.” Mtimkulu says. “I don’t know what happened really. I am going to do whatever I can to go and see her and speak to her.”

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