How Kotzé was caught

2012-01-12 00:00

MODIMOLLE (Nylstroom) — While the police, the Hawks and Interpol were searching for him all over the country, the most wanted crime suspect in the country was living just outside the town for more than a week and even went to buy food more than once in a local supermarket.

He also drove to the supermarket at least once in his white Toyota Fortuner, which the police were searching for just as hard.

Johan Kotzé (50) was living in his Toyota barely two kilometres outside this Limpopo town.

He was arrested yesterday morning at 11.45 am at a friend's house in a quiet street, to which he had walked.

He arrived quite calmly at the home of the friend, Dirk van der Merwe, in Schoeman Street.

"I got the fright of my life. All he said was, 'We must talk'," a shocked Van der Merwe said yesterday. Van der Merwe phoned the police, after which detectives went to arrest Kotzé.

Sister paper Beeld was told that Kotzé even kept a daily diary from last Tuesday. It is not known what he wrote in it.

Kotzé allegedly hired three men last Tuesday and forced them to rape a woman. He himself allegedly tortured and sodomised her.

He apparently also shot and killed his stepson, Conrad Bonnette (19), in cold blood.

"Thank goodness!" the woman said yesterday when she was informed that Kotzé had been arrested. She is still in a place of safety.

Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said one of the three alleged rapists was arrested at about 30 minutes past midnight yesterday morning in Hammanskraal outside Pretoria. The man (42) is in police custody. His two companions are still at large.

Kotzé was seen at Duggans Supermarket in Boshoff Street in Modimolle on Tuesday evening, where he bought bread and corned beef. Frances du Preez, a town resident, said her daughter-in-law, Surinda du Preez, was driving along Boshoff Street at about 8 pm to "lull her children to sleep".

"She saw the [Toyota] Fortuner approaching from the front. She stopped at the café, looked in at the door and directly into his face. She got a big fright."

Surinda then phoned Du Preez, who informed her two sons, Anton and Werner. They informed the police and drove to the Drie Hekke smallholdings, where they thought the Fortuner had gone.

Drie Hekke is about two kilometres from an old power station and about five kilometres from Van der Merwe's house. The area is thickly wooded.

Here Kotzé had crashed into a thorn tree. The Du Preez brothers discovered the vehicle, with its lights still on. The windscreen was cracked and the mudguard bent. Kotzé had fled further on foot before they arrived.

"He was right under our noses and no one could find him," Du Preez said.

Beeld has heard that Kotzé also went to buy food at the supermarket on Sunday evening.

There were two blankets on the vehicle's back seat. A gas bottle, velskoens and several empty cooldrink bottles were found in the back of the car.

On the front seat was an A4 writing pad in which Kotzé wrote something every day. "He was definitely living in the car," a police officer said.

According to Van der Merwe, who owns the house in Church Street in which the tragedy took place, Kotzé looked world-weary and dishevelled when he arrived at his house in Schoeman Street — just a stone's throw away from the supermarket where Kotzé had bought food.

"I said I would have someone make us some coffee and then phoned the police."

The police questioned Van der Merwe yesterday. He said he did not offer shelter to Kotzé. Kotzé had reportedly phoned him last Wednesday and said he is "tired of life".

Kotzé will appear in the Modimolle magistrate's court tomorrow on a charge of murder, among other things.

His murdered stepson, Conrad Bonnette (19), will be buried on the same day at 11 am from the Reformed Church in Bela-Bela (Warmbaths).

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