'They murdered an angel' - 4 found guilty of 81-year-old guest house owner's brutal murder

2019-02-13 15:49
Marie Verwey (File, Netwerk24)

Marie Verwey (File, Netwerk24)

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A caregiver and her three accomplices were found guilty of the brutal murder of 81-year-old Paradyskloof guest house owner Marie Verwey in a judgment handed down in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

"She sat with a Bible on her knee with my late father," said Verwey's distraught son, Francois, still in disbelief after Judge Mushtaq Parker declared that the woman he trusted had been part of the planning of the fatal robbery.

Verwey was stabbed 62 times at the Villa Merwe guest house on February 16, 2017, and robbed of over R700 000 in jewellery as well as personal items, including a digital camera.

The four accused, Nicoleze Geldenhuys, Romeo Hendricks, Enrico Malherbe and Andre Coetzee, did not flinch when the verdict was handed down and they were taken back into custody to await sentencing proceedings.

Geldenhuys, or "Nicole" as she was known, had looked after Verwey's husband until he died, and had returned to help with the elderly woman.

The court heard that she had lied to them once about missing a shift, and they had fired her.

'She was so gentle'

However, Geldenhuys had sent them a message out of the blue, to say she was missing the family, and they hired her again. A cancer survivor, Verwey walked with assistance and was battling to get around.

Dabbing his eyes, Francois said he still could not understand why Geldenhuys would have been part of the plan to rob and kill his mother.

"She was so gentle. They murdered an angel."

The court found that Geldenhuys gained entry into the "very security conscious" elderly woman's home on the pretext of dropping off some grapes for her domestic worker. She called ahead to say she was coming and hugged Verwey on arrival.

A man that Geldenhuys pretended not to know arrived at the door and asked for a glass of water.

When Verwey let him in, he turned on her and stabbed her as she was sitting in her chair.

26 prior convictions between accused

One of the four was the getaway driver, and the other opened the safes and cleaned them out with the help of Geldenhuys, who knew the pin codes.

Afterwards they put all the belongings on a bed at one of their houses, and sifted Verwey's rings out of the pile, which they decided to sell first.

Parker said video footage from one of Verwey's neighbours helped police track down the car. Other footage of Geldenhuys walking towards Cash for Gold in Cape Town CBD looking "jolly", did not add up to her explanation that she had been concerned about the turn of events. 

Parker said that from evidence submitted during their trial, Geldenhuys had planned the robbery for at least six years. He said that even though she had said she was shocked that Malherbe had stabbed Verwey, neither she nor anybody else did anything to help her, or to distance themselves from the stabbing.

A fifth person who lent the accused the car used in the crime was granted immunity from prosecution.

They will all return to court on March 25 for sentencing proceedings.

The court heard that between them, they had at least 26 prior convictions. Geldenhuys had one for fraud, which Francois said he had not known about.

Read more on:    marie verwey  |  cape town  |  crime  |  courts
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