Shocked church mourns after son’s arrest

2012-11-12 00:00

HARRISMITH — A congregation that was still in shock and mourning yesterday attended a tear-filled sermon in the Dutch Reformed Church Kerkenberg. Instead of their dominee Willem Brits (60), dominee Bobby Scherrer, Kerkenberg’s emeritus preacher, led the service.

He said there was not a community with so much grief as this Harrismith congregation after a man with an axe had killed their dominee and his future son-in-law, Gerhard Vermeulen (25), as well as critically injured his wife, Dorothea Brits (59).

The Brits couple’s son, Martin (28), was arrested on Friday night. His sister Thea, who lost her father and fiancé in the tragedy, and their brothers Dawid and Willie, were in the service. Thea burst into tears several times during the sermon.

Scherrer yesterday expressed his sympathy with the Brits children, who were all adopted at birth. He said the congregation would help and support them.

To give some clarity to the questions everyone in town had, Scherrer told the congregation that Martin was questioned and arrested by police because certain aspects of his answers did not make sense to them.

He told the congregation all the Brits children had been questioned as part of standard police procedure, and Thea, who was in the house during the attack, was questioned twice. She is, however, not a suspect.

Brits was reportedly hacked with an axe and shot on Thursday evening. He died the next morning in the Mediclinic in Bethlehem.

Vermeulen was hit in the head with an axe and died in the rectory. Dorothea, who was also hit in the head with an axe, was still in a critical condition in the Mediclinic Bloemfontein last night.

Thea (24) was tied up in the attack and not injured.

Her brother, Martin, initially said he was told by an intruder to tie his family and Vermeulen with cable ties before being knocked unconscious and left in the bath with his feet tied.

Shortly after the attack, a 30-year-old man from Mpumalanga was arrested next to the N3 with bloody clothes and some stolen items from the rectory.

Scherrer said after yesterday’s service that Martin Brits would be supported by his family.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.