Cougar ‘hired hit men to murder Bulls player’

When two men sent a photo of a “dead” Blue Bulls rugby player, Deon Helberg, to a Pretoria woman on Wednesday, she allegedly replied: “Job well done. See you tomorrow.”

Manda Reyneke (47) of Silver Lakes apparently contracted the two Nigerian men several months ago to kill Helberg (21), who has also played for the Springbok Sevens side.

Little did she know that the Hawks investigation unit, the Nigerians and a very much alive Helberg had carefully doctored the photo to trap her.

Reyneke was arrested at the Atterbury Value Mart in Pretoria yesterday morning shortly after handing R10 000 in cash – allegedly part payment for the hit – to the two men.

Lack of emotion

City Press’s sister paper, Beeld, saw Reyneke stop next to the two men in the parking lot in her silver Volvo and hand them a packet of R100 notes. Several unmarked vehicles carrying members of the Hawks then surrounded her car, sirens blaring, and forced her to get out.

Reyneke did not show any emotion throughout the sting, even when she was handcuffed and put into a police vehicle.

Lieutenant-Colonel Leonie Verster, a commanding officer in the Hawks’ tactical operations management section, said one of the men approached the police with information about the planned hit.

“We are extremely grateful to this man and see this as a great success.”

Verster said Reyneke made certain admissions following her arrest.

Johan Lourens, Helberg’s uncle, said the arrest was a great relief.

“Deon is very relieved, as she [Reyneke] had been threatening for two years that she was going to have him killed.

“It was hell for him to wonder every day whether he was going to die that day. We are glad that justice will now be done.”

Helberg said the Blue Bulls Rugby Union would shortly issue a statement on his behalf.

In love with daughter’s date

Beeld understands that Reyneke wanted to have Helberg killed because she had fallen in love with him while he was dating her daughter some time ago.

He was living with them at one stage.

When Helberg broke off the relationship with her daughter, Reyneke allegedly started harassing him with SMSes and later started threatening him with death.

About two months ago, she met two Nigerians at a nightclub and allegedly hired them to carry out the hit.

“She picked the wrong Nigerians,” said one of them, who wishes to remain anonymous.

“She sent us SMSes day and night, informing us of all of Helberg’s movements.

“She said she would buy us each a house and that, after the murder, she would pay us R10 000 a month for 12 months.”

The men, who did not want to kill anyone, put pressure on Reyneke to give them Helberg’s cellphone number.

When she eventually did so, they contacted Helberg and told him Reyneke had hired them to kill him.

Even after her arrest, Reyneke still thought Helberg was dead – that is until she heard during her interrogation at the Hawks’ headquarters in Silverton that he was still alive.

Beeld was told she had asked to see Helberg and he was apparently called to the room.

Reyneke reportedly showed no emotion when she saw him alive. The two said nothing to each other.

Reyneke is expected to appear in the Pretoria Regional Court on a charge of conspiring to commit murder.

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