KZN couple’s doomsday hoard

2013-01-19 00:00

THEY believed the world was going to end in their lifetime and humanity would descend into chaos and destruction.

That was why a couple from Margate bought a house in Sasolburg, Free State, and stored five five-litre buckets of shotgun rounds in a secret bunker that was raided by police this week after it was discovered by construction workers.

In an interview with Weekend Witness yesterday, advocate Carlo Viljoen, the couple’s lawyer, said these were the reasons why the couple had stockpiled the bunker with tins of food and other survival kit in preparation for doomsday.

“The unmarried couple are life partners with business interests in the tourism industry based in Margate in the South Coast. The man is in his 50s while the woman is in her 40s. They do not have children and wish to remain unidentified because of the embarrassment this has caused them,” said Viljoen.

He refused to divulge their names.

“They bought the ammunition legally and the only mistake they made was that they did not put it in a safe. They are just a normal Christian couple. They bought the house at an auction a while ago,” he explained. The couple still own the house.

He said the two became convinced the world was going to end from various sources and quotes in the Bible. Their fears were exacerbated by the December 21, 2012, Mayan calendar theory and a strong belief that a huge meteorite was headed towards Earth.

Viljoen strongly rejected claims that the couple could have been right-wing activists planning an attack or preparing for a war. “They are life partners with legitimate business interests and the man is very intelligent,” he said.

Weekend Witness drove to Margate to interview the couple, who wanted to set the record straight. But they backtracked at the last minute, afraid that they would say something that could have legal consequences and jeopardise their case. They gave Viljoen a mandate to speak on their behalf.

“I told the Margate police station commander as well as police in Sasolburg that when they are ready to lay a charge we will face them.

“They are willing to co-operate with authorities and take responsibility for their actions,” he added.

Viljoen said the matter was not a serious criminal offence and had been blown out of proportion by the media.

When asked why there was so much ammunition, and what it was meant for, Viljoen said the man had a dedicated sports licence and was allowed to buy more than 200 rounds of shotgun ammunition under the Firearms Control Act.

“By law they are allowed to have the ammunition. They did not expect all this attention and they did not have a malicious or criminal intention. They acted on what they believed was right at the time. They are embarrassed by the right-wing claims because they are not associated with that. They are broad-minded people,” he said.

Constable Peter Kareli, the investigating officer in the case, said the ammunition found at the house was undergoing ballistic testing.

“We want to know where this ammunition came from. No one is in custody and we are still investigating. We are still trying to locate them. We don’t want to arrest them, we just need answers as to why there was so much ammunition at their disposal,” said Kareli.

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