Beaten to death at 84

2011-05-26 00:00

AN elderly man was beaten to death and his traumatised wife hospitalised on Tuesday evening after five men stormed into their house in Howick, outside Pietermaritzburg, and assaulted them.

Graham Culverwell of Merrivale died in his study after he had been severely assaulted.

His wife, Hillary, had her mouth gagged and her hands tied with plastic tape, but she managed to free herself and pressed a panic button to alert Knight Force Armed Response.

The pensioners, who have four sons, are both 84.

Culverwell was a panelbeater before he retired. He also restored vintage vehicles.

The invasion happened at about 7 pm.

The couple’s youngest son, Gary Culverwell (54), said he arrived at the scene from his Hilton home at about 8 pm.

“When I got here I found there were already many police officers, security guards and paramedics here. My father was lying dead in the study and my traumatised mother had already been taken by neighbours to their home,” said Culverwell, who manages a local shop.

There were no signs of forced entry, and Culverwell said his mother was feeding the couple’s two dogs when the men ran into the house.

“Two went for my mother, while three went for my dad,” said Culverwell.

The men apparently demanded money, and after his mother had given them the R300 she had in her purse, they demanded more.

After having tied her up and put her in the bathroom, they attacked Graham Culverwell and took his cellphone.

“My parents are so old and we thought they would just fade away on their own. My father could not even walk without the support of a Zimmer frame. They should have just let them stand there and taken whatever they wanted to take.”

The couple’s house is in Geekie Road.

The neighbours reportedly heard the dogs barking non-stop. Two security guards from Knight Force Armed Response responded to Hillary Culverwell’s panic button call for help.

The owner of the company, Gary Preston, said the guards found her with blood on her body.

In another room they found her husband, already dead.

“One of our guards saw a suspect peeping through the window and he fired two shots but missed the suspect,” said Preston.

The man apparently got away by jumping over a concrete fence behind the house and ran on to the nearby railway line before disappearing.

Later Mountain Rise dog unit officers arrived at the scene.

Preston said roadblocks were put up on various routes and raids were conducted in local residential areas, but the suspects were nowhere to be found.

Police spokesperson Captain Lolly Moodley said police found Culverwell’s stolen cellphone next to the concrete fence.

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