Murder in paradise

By admin
25 June 2010

Hannetjie Walters had one wish for her 50th birthday in three years’ time: to spend the day with her three brothers on the island paradise where she and her husband, Gareth, had settled three years ago.

On Ile aux Nattes, an island about 5 km in circumference off the east coast of Madagascar, they’d created the kind of life most people can only dream of. The wooden house and spa they built there was less than 10 m from the sea and they had a breathtaking view of the crystal-clear Indian Ocean from their patio.

‘‘It’s paradise; we’re living a dream,’’ bubbly Hannetjie often said when she phoned her brothers in South Africa.

In the end it wasn’t her birthday that lured Gerrit, Coenie and Henk Schoonhoven to their sister’s beloved island. Gerrit and Coenie had visited the island individually before but when all three set off together it was to say farewell to their energetic, creative sister and her artistic, intelligent husband.

During the night of Friday 11 June the couple were murdered and their bodies were put in a generator room and set alight. The spa was also burnt to the ground. Police are still investigating the brutal crime.

‘‘There are no funeral homes or cooling facilities on the island and we had to give permission for them to be buried before we arrived,’’ Potchefstroom police captain Coenie says.

Gareth and Hannetjie, who’d both been married twice before, had worked in the advertising industry and known each another for years. About four years ago they visited Ile au Nattes, fell in love with it and later sold up in Johannesburg and moved there.

‘‘Hannetjie and Gareth lived their dream for three years. They were happier than a lifetime in Johannesburg could have made them,’’ Gerrit says.

Read the full article in the YOU of 1 July 2010

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