Oribi couple murdered

2015-02-27 00:00

AN elderly couple were found murdered in their Oribi home early yesterday morning after an ­attack many believe could have been an attempt to steal their house.

The couple, Susan (72) and Melvin Lawson (71), were both stabbed in the neck, had petrol poured on them and were then set alight before the intruders made off with their television set.

Netcare911 paramedics declared the two dead at the scene at Oribi Village.

Sources said Susan had been stabbed once in the neck while Melvin had been stabbed five times, also in the neck.

Neighbours of the quiet couple were alerted to the gruesome scene by barking dogs and smoke streaming from their flat’s window.

The Lawsons were found by a friend and neighbour of 17 years, who asked not to be named, lying bloodied and in flames in different rooms of their neatly kept home.

He said the couple’s home had been broken into last month, when money and pension cards were stolen.

He added that the first break-in was intended to scare them to move out of their house so the burglars could move in.

A police source said he had heard of the trouble with housing in the area and suspected the murders were motivated by ownership of the house.

Oribi councillor Philani Ngidi said he had lived in the area for 17 years and that there was a ­problem with housing and the intimidation of residents by Whoonga addicts.

“We are having a community meeting this Saturday to discuss the issue of housing. I ­suspect the cause of the murder was that other people wanted their house, although we are not sure yet,” Ngidi said.

Ngidi said the Lawsons’ house and most of those around them were leased by residents through the Human Settlements Department, and because none of the residents held title deeds to the houses, they were being targeted by others who wanted their homes.

“Our main challenge is to fight against the people who want our houses.

“The older people are especially vulnerable and we need them all to come to the meeting so we can hear about their issues and fight ­together, otherwise tomorrow it will be somebody else,” he said.

Ngidi added that he had met with the Human Settlements Department and the Msunduzi ­Municipality to discuss transferring the title deeds to the residents’ names, as he thought that might solve the problem.

“The department must fast-track the process and hopefully by the end of this year, our ­residents will own their houses.”

Neighbours at the scene whispered among themselves about the gruesome discovery of the couple’s bodies.

One, who would not be named, said she woke up early to go to the bathroom when she heard dogs barking.

“I looked through my bathroom window to see what was going on and saw their [Lawsons] bathroom light go on, and then switch off, then the bedroom light went on, and switched off, and the kitchen light went on and I saw someone peeping through the window, but I thought it was Melvin telling the dogs to be quiet,” she said.

Family of the Lawsons gathered together at a neighbour’s house, sobbing bitterly for the loss of their loved ones.

Susan’s brother Eddie van der Heever said he spoke to his sister on Wednesday night and now missed her terribly.

“She said to me, ‘Eddie, I’ll see you on ­Saturday,’ and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll see you on Saturday,’ and that was the last I heard from her.”

Susan’s niece Sandra Vorster sobbed ­uncontrollably when asked about her aunt and could only say that they were extremely close.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said no arrests had been made.

“The police are appealing to anyone who might have information about the whereabouts of the suspects to please contact any local police station or our Crime Stop number at 086 001 0111.

“Two counts of murder, house robbery and arson have been opened at Alexandra Road police station for further investigation,” he said.

TRANSPORT, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu expressed his sorrow at the brutal murder of the Oribi couple ­yesterday.

“Attacking, robbing and murdering elderly people, who should be the most valued members of our communities, are totally ­abhorrent deeds and it represents the lowest decline of morals in our communities.

“I have been assured that the police will work around the clock to ensure that those who are responsible for this ruthless double murder are brought to justice as soon as ­possible,” he said.

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