Fugitives may have agreed on suicide

2011-01-22 00:00

SUTHERLAND — A suicide pact seems to have ended the lives of the French couple who died on Thursday after a shoot-out with 10 police officers armed with R5 assault rifles at a farmhouse in the Karoo.

Law enforcers yesterday said it could still take months to determine whose bullets were to blame for the fugitive pair’s death in the kitchen where they made their last stand.

The walls of the room were riddled with bullet holes.

Philippe Meniére (60) and his partner, Agnes Jeanne Jardel (55), had since last Friday been the focus of the largest police search to date in the district.

They fled after shooting dead student Constable Jacob Boleme (27) and wounding Warrant Officer Glenwell du Toit (42) when the two policemen visited the farm Hardie, some 25 km outside Sutherland, to search the house for unlicensed firearms.

Meniére and Jardel had lived on the farm for the past 12 years.

Reports state that police photos, taken on Thursday of their bodies, indicate the pair may have agreed to commit suicide.

They were found lying with their heads next to each other, with Meniére still holding a firearm. Each had died from a single bullet wound to their head. Several rifles and pistols as well as a large amount of ammunition were found with them.

Lieutenant-Colonel Hendrik Swart, spokesperson for the North-Cape police, on Thursday described the scene only as “gruesome”.

“It could take months,” he said about the forensic autopsy to investigate whether Meniére and Jardel committed suicide.

Die Burger reported earlier that Pete Swanepoel, who learned how to shoot at a survival school with the French couple 23 years ago, alleged they stole an M16 automatic rifle from this school.

Swart yesterday confirmed an M16 was found in the house, but could not confirm its origin.

According to Swart, it appears that Meniére and Jardel had bought most of the firearms in their possession, but they did not renew the licences.

Gerhardus du Plessis, the owner of the Hardie farm, said yesterday that in the 12 years that they lived on the farm, he never saw them with firearms.

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