- A 66-year-old woman, who was found dead on a hiking trail in Barrydale in the Western Cape, was murdered, police have confirmed.
- Erna Gericke went for a walk on Sunday and was reported missing when she did not come home.
- Two suspects, who were arrested for the allegedly theft of Gericke’s vehicle, will now also face murder charges.
Erna Gericke, 66, who was found dead on a hiking trail in Barrydale, was murdered, police have confirmed.
Southern Cape police spokesperson Captain Malcolm Pojie said, while police initially did not suspect foul play, the preliminary autopsy results have confirmed that Gericke was shot.
Gericke was reported missing on Sunday when she did not come home from her walk. She was found in the early hours of Monday morning, on the Waterfall Hiking Trail, by a search party which included her daughter.
Gericke was found around five or six kilometres along the trail. She had sustained injuries to her hand and arm.
According to Netwerk24, Gericke’s family initially believed a rock had fallen and injured her arm. Gericke was reportedly walking without her usual companion and did not have a cellphone with her at the time. She reportedly walked back around two kilometres after she was injured.
The autopsy results identified injuries on Gericke’s hand and forearm as consistent with those caused by a heavy calibre rifle. She likely died as a result of a loss of blood after the attack, said Pojie.
"Based on these findings, detectives at Barrydale expanded their investigation which led to the recovery of the firearm, a .303 rifle, that was allegedly used to attack and shoot the deceased with," said Pojie.
Gericke’s car was missing from the parking area, with shattered glass residue indicating that it might have been stolen. It was later found abandoned behind a hill near Tradouw Hoek.
Two suspects, an 18-year-old and a 24-year-old from a nearby farm, have been arrested for the theft of the vehicle. One had the spare keys of the Citroen on them.
They would now face additional charges of murder, said Pojie.
The pair appeared in the Barrydale Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. They were remanded in custody, and may face additional charges, added Pojie.
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