Stabbed in their sleep

2019-09-19 15:00
Underberg couple Matthew and Karen Turner with their young son, Hayden.

Underberg couple Matthew and Karen Turner with their young son, Hayden.

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The brother of Transkei murder victim, Karen Turner, has given a chilling account of how his sister died based on what her husband, Matthew, told him from his bed in ICU at a Pietermaritzburg hospital.

The Underberg farmer was airlifted from the Eastern Cape to the city with several stab wounds to his upper body on Tuesday but remained unconscious until Wednesday morning.

The couple had been staying at Hluleka Nature Reserve on the Wild Coast with friends when the incident happened in the early hours of Tuesday.

“Matthew said he woke up to being stabbed in the stomach and Karen screaming next to him,” Karen’s brother, Ian Crouch, told The Witness on Wednesday.

He said according to Matthew he and Karen were asleep upstairs in their two-storey chalet when they were attacked. “The one man was stabbing Matthew in the stomach and the other man was stabbing Karen,” said Crouch.

“He [Matthew] said he had already been stabbed a few times when he managed to push the man off him.”

According to Matthew his attackers were startled when he resisted and they ran downstairs, said Crouch.

“Matthew said he chased after them and Karen was behind him. The last thing he remembers her saying to him was to check on Hayden [their two-year-old son].

“He tried to follow the men but saw them jump off the balcony. When he turned around, Karen had collapsed.”

Crouch said it was then that Matthew heard their friends knocking on the back door of the chalet.

“The last thing he remembers is unlocking the door for his friends and then he collapsed.

“He is stable. He had surgery at Mthatha Hospital and was then airlifted to a hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

“He is a little groggy from the medication but knows he has lost his wife and is very emotional about it. Karen was pregnant and had taken the week off before going to a friend’s wedding at Trennery further down the Wild Coast. It was Karen’s (31st) birthday on Monday. They were going to stay at the resort until Thursday [today] and then go to the wedding.”

As soon as Crouch heard about his sister’s murder and attack on his brother-in-law, he flew down to Hluleka with a friend’s helicopter, arriving before police. He said that when he arrived he overheard a woman telling staff there that they should blame the murder on a domestic dispute. “I saw the staff from the resort all gathered together. A woman was talking and said she had been told by ‘Vuyani’ to say there was no staff at the resort after 11 pm and no staff before 7 am.

“She said she had been told there was a party at the chalet and there had been a domestic dispute.”

Crouch said the suggestion that there had been domestic violence was fuelled when the resort reported that there had been an “argument” in the chalet, whereas the friend in the neighbouring chalet, who ran to the rescue, had referred to hearing a “commotion”.

“This has caused complete chaos.”

The Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) CEO Vuyani Dayimani has said they are working with police to assist with the matter.

Hluleka Resort staff sit around near the chalets booked by the couple and their friends on Tuesday morning, a few hours after Karen’s murder. (Photo: Ian Crouch)

ECPTA spokesperson Oyanga Ngalika said Dayimani has confirmed that he “did not give instructions in any way, shape or form to staff to hinder an ongoing investigation of such serious magnitude”.

Ngalika said the couple had booked in with friends and reserved two chalets. One chalet was for two adults and the second was for three adults.

When asked if Hluleka security had noticed anything strange the morning the murder occurred she said: “The gate and office (at Hluleka) were tampered with, however, police can indicate how those occurred.”

She said none of the fences surrounding the resort had been damaged.

She said there had been a break-in at the resort in November 2018.

Crouch said there was no fence in front of the chalets from the beach and that there was a lot of foot traffic through the resort.

“The attackers took the weapons with them. There weren’t any knives found at the scene. The men didn’t demand anything but Matthew thinks the men wanted to kill them so they would have the entire place to themselves to pick at, at their leisure.

“Everyone is taking strain and we are just taking everything step by step.”

He said there would be an autopsy done on Karen today and that her funeral would possibly be next weekend.

“Magma Security and Investigations are busy with the case and we have full confidence that they will arrest those responsible.”

Eastern Cape Police spokesperson Captain Dineo Koena said she stood by the statements she made soon after the incident.

Crouch said his sister had apparently suffered stab wounds to her stomach.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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