‘We did not know,’ say horror house neighbours

2014-06-02 00:00

ALTHOUGH the sun was shining in Springs yesterday, the “house of horrors” remained hidden in the dark shade of the trees around it.

As numerous cars yesterday drove into and out of the gate leading to the house, passers-by slowed down to look at the house in which a man allegedly held and tortured his wife and their five children for years.

“I want to kick him in the mouth,” an elderly woman said as she returned from her church past the house.

The accused appeared in court last week after one of his children, an 11-year-old boy, escaped from the house after the accused threatened to kill him. He sought help from the nearest neighbours and they alerted the police.

The accused reportedly rented the house. Another tenant who rents on the same sub-divided property, Herman Potgieter, said media and curious members of the public had been knocking on his gate, “Herman Hek”, since the arrest of the accused man. He said he could not sleep at night since learning about the sadistic tragedy that took place next door. He said about eight families rented on the same property on which the accused would reportedly torture his entire family for up to a day and a night.

Potgieter said he could not believe such things happened right next door. “I can’t believe it happened right here under our noses,” he said.

He added that he had sometimes heard the man and woman screaming, but did not suspect violence or assault was involved. Potgieter said the accused was very friendly but would also get very aggressive very quickly.

“I was very careful around him. He can twist you into a knot if he gets his hands on you.”

One of the women who rents on the property and who only introduced herself as Lynn, asked reporters from sister paper Beeld to come back later when she would have time to chat. She was wearing white latex gloves and said she was the caretaker. It appeared as is she was cleaning up the “house of horrors”.

When police arrested the suspect last week, they reported his children and wife “were just sitting there while rats scurried everywhere”.

Another woman chased Beeld’s reporter and photographer from the front of the house, and said they had a court order to stop anyone from entering the house.

A family member of the accused later brought a court order that stipulated no media were allowed on the premises. The man threatened Beeld’s photographer after he was photographed with the court order.

Long-time Springs resident Ogies Lombaard (63) said she and the rest of her family were horrified at the reports of what happened in the “house of horrors”.

“I am still shivering,” she said. “When we’ve finished eating we will also drive past the place,” she said.

At the nearby Ruach International Ministries church, pastor Jannie Venter said the entire community was shocked. “We are praying for that man. We are not judging him,” Venter said.

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