'They were soulmates': Bela-Bela couple announced they were in love – hours later, they were dead

By Jana van der Merwe
08 July 2016

CJ and Juané were found dead just hours after celebrating their 30th birthdays.

Police are still stumped by the mysterious death of a young couple whose bodies were found a day after they celebrated their 30th birthdays together at a popular pub in Bela-Bela, Limpopo.

They had announced they were a couple just days before they died, hours after their joint birthday party.

Their loved ones are unable to get closure as they still don’t know what happened.

On Saturday 9 July it will be exactly one month since the bodies of CJ Jansen van Vuuren (30) and his girlfriend, Juané Potgieter (also 30), were found in Juané’s bed in her rented house in the Panorama Park security complex in Bela-Bela.

According to a source who witnessed the scene the couple were naked and it looked like their noses had been bleeding when they were found on Saturday night 11 June.

Though there are rumours that their deaths may have been drug related, no drugs or drug paraphernalia were found in the house. The couple’s friends and family also maintain they didn’t use drugs.

Juané turned 30 on Wednesday 8 June and CJ on Friday 10 June, the night of the party. It was the same week he asked her to be his girlfriend.

Colonel Ronel Otto, police spokesperson, told YOU it could still be a while before investigators get the results of their autopsies and blood tests. These forensic tests are performed by the health department.

Otto says the SAPD have opened an investigation into their deaths since no crime is suspected at this stage but the cause of death is still unknown.

Their families are struggling to come to terms with their sudden death.

“It was the happiest I’d ever seen my daughter. Just that weekend she said to me, ‘Mamma, I’ve met my soulmate,” a stunned Teresa Luck (49), Juané’s mom who lives in Namibia, says about the weekend before they died when her daughter and new boyfriend came to visit her on the farm.

Teresa says CJ was very pleasant. “I really liked him. I thought she’d now met someone who’ll care for her children well.”

Juané’s two children, a boy (10) and a girl (7), were with their father at the time of her death. CJ’s three-year-old son was with his mom.

Teresa says Juané’s son is taking his mom’s death very hard. “He cries terribly about his mommy.” His sister is quiet and won’t talk about it. Both children are receiving counselling.

“Juané was outgoing, she was vivacious. She was a butterfly that flitted from one flower to the next. She was such a spontaneous person, she’d talk to anybody.”

According to Teresa her daughter was body-conscious and was planning on competing in a body-building competition again soon.

Fred van Heerden, who owns the estate agency where Juané worked, says she worked in his agency’s financial department for more than four years.

“She was a hard worker, a go-getter. Nothing was too much effort for her,” he says.

He recalls how ecstatically happy Juané was after CJ had asked her to be his girlfriend. “I know they’d been only friends for a while. She was so proud that he’d finally asked her to go out with him. She’d waited for him for a long a time!”

A mutual friend of the couple relates how they all celebrated the couple’s birthdays that Saturday night in Alloha, a pub and restaurant in the Bela-Bela Waterfront. She says there were platters of food, a birthday cake and a separate bar area where the guests had shooters later in the evening.

Juané and CJ left around 2 am. They went to a friend’s house where they continued the party. It’s thought that they would’ve arrived at Juané’s house between 3 am and 5 am.

Another friend stayed over at her house. It’s believed Juané’s brother and his girlfriend, who hadn’t been at the party, also spent the night in Juané’s house.

According to the mutual friend, the man who slept over knocked on the couple’s bedroom door late in the morning to say he was leaving. The door was locked. Juané’s brother also says he didn’t see or speak to the couple that whole day.

Later that same Saturday – the night following the night of the birthday party – the couple didn’t show up for a potjiekos dinner they’d been invited to. Their friends became concerned because they’d also not been answering their phones the whole day. One of their closest friends then went to Juané’s house.

“The front door was open and I walked straight to their bedroom. The bedroom door wasn’t locked but the key was in the lock,” the friend says.

She says Juané was lying on her stomach, a blanket only partially covering her naked body. The friend couldn’t see her face but there was blood on the bedding, presumably from a nose bleed. CJ was completely uncovered, his one leg hanging off the bed.

His face was visible and he’d clearly also had a nose bleed. The friend says they had not been bleeding from the ears as had been reported in other publications. Nothing was out of place and nothing had been stolen. The couple’s cellphones and wallets were there.

“I keep thinking if they’d decided to take drugs that one night to get a bit of a buzz, why would they both have taken an overdose?”

She also says the couple didn’t appear to be especially drunk that evening either.

Teresa says her daughter was very much against drugs because she has a younger brother with a history of drug abuse.

“I would’ve known if she was using drugs. She always tried to help her brother and offered him a place to stay.”

She’s also sure it wasn’t suicide, saying, “She [Juané] has two children whom she loves deeply.”

Friends and family laid Juané and CJ to rest on 18 June and 2 July respectively in the NG Kerk Warmbad-Wes.

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