Mpumalanga: couple found dead in freezer, hands and feet tied

2013-01-10 00:00

BELFAST — A search for a missing couple in their seventies ended when their bodies were found in a freezer.

Their hands and feet had been tied and police suspect that they suffocated in the upright freezer, which had not been switched on.

Police suspect that the couple, Rudolf “Koffie” van Heerden (79) and his wife, Elma (79), were stuffed into the freezer on Tuesday night.

Van Heerden was a retired surveyor and the couple had been living in the small highveld town of Belfast in Mpumalanga for more than 50 years.

The search for the couple started yesterday when the Van Heerdens’ gardener asked the neighbours, Julian and Janet Muray, for help when no one answered the bell to the gate.

Julian said he climbed over the fence and walked around the house.

“I saw the kitchen window was shattered and that the burglar bars had been broken and removed,” he said.

He then phoned the police.

They entered the house through a side door that had been unlocked and found the rooms in a chaotic condition.

But there was no sign of the couple.

Police initially suspected they may have been abducted, because Van Heerden’s Toyota Prado was missing.

“I, however, had a feeling something was terribly wrong,” Murray said.

More police officers started to search for the Van Heerdens.

One of them found the bodies in an upright freezer in the study.

The hands and feet of both victims had been tied with cable ties.

The police later found Van Heerden’s Prado abandoned on the N4 between Belfast and Middelburg, said police spokesperson Colonel Leonard Hlathi.

The car had reportedly stopped near the Wonderfontein fuel station after the Van Heerdens’ suspected attacker had refueled with petrol instead of diesel.

The couple is survived by their two children, Rona van Wyk and Rudi van Heerden.

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