Woman strangled with oxygen tank tube

2013-11-08 10:13
(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

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Durban - “I called them… There was no answer. Hester always answers her phone. That’s when I got worried.”

This was how the neighbour of an elderly Shongweni Valley couple described the moment on Thursday when she feared the worst had happened to them.

Police would arrive later and confirm her fears - John and Hester Noble were murdered during a home invasion on Wednesday night.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said John, 72, had been strangled with a piece of wire and his wife, 68, with the tube from her oxygen tank.

“Their vehicle was later found abandoned. No arrests have been made and two counts of murder and house robbery were opened at Hillcrest police station,” he said.


The Nobles’ neighbour, who did not want to be named, had first turned to former reservist and neighbour Dave Leslie when they did not answer her calls.

“Their gardener and housekeeper were pressing the bell and calling out to them, but there was no answer.”

Leslie, the owner of wedding venue Stonehaven Castle and a police reservist for 20 years, described the murder as one of the worst he had ever seen.

Leslie said he had forced his way through the closed gate and the Nobles’ staff followed.

“I checked in the garage and saw John’s body. I stopped the staff and I said ‘get back, don’t even look’.”

He then called the police and the couple’s security company before he entered the house.

“That house was trashed beyond belief.”

He said he started searching for Hester because they could not find her.

“We found her in her bedroom - she had been buried under a heap of clothing and strangled with her oxygen pipes. Hester had been suffering from emphysema for months.

“She was killed with her own life support and then they emptied all the cupboards on top of her,” said Leslie, adding both Hester and her husband were badly beaten up. “This is a no-no. You don’t do this,” he said.

“They didn’t kill them, they tortured them. They beat the hell out of them. They were no threat.”

The neighbours said they heard the couple’s two dogs barking on Wednesday night at around 21:00. However, they did not think much of it because the neighbourhood dogs were always barking at stray cattle in the area.

The couple lived alone - their daughter lives in Cape Town and their son is apparently overseas.

Another neighbour Lollet Smith described the couple as generous, kind-hearted, wholesome and said nothing was too much effort for them.

Elderly being targeted

Acting chairperson of the Hillcrest community policing forum Monica Bruun said they had urged elderly residents who were living by themselves in areas like Waterfall, Botha’s Hill, Everton, Assagay and the Shongweni Valley to move in with their children or into an old age home.

“We are concerned because the elderly are being targeted.

“The problem is they don’t want to move… they tell you that this is their property and they have lived there for forty years or more.”

Bruun said she had recently tried to convince a 94-year-old widow to move out of her house.

“This person has six guns that don’t work and she refuses to leave her four-acre property.

Blue Security managing director Darryn le Grange said the elderly couple had not managed to get to a panic button to sound the alarm during the incident.

The murderers fled in the couple’s vehicle which was later recovered broken down in Mpumalanga township, he said.

“Sadly, criminals continue to prey on vulnerable people like innocent families and the elderly and residents can’t afford for one minute to let down their guard when it comes to personal safety,” le Grange said. He urged residents to install early warning systems like electric fences and external beams that would sound the alarm if an intruder entered the property.

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