Waterkloof family's fall from grace


SHE had it all: lovely home, successful husband, talented son and a thriving nursery school. Now she has lost her home and several other properties, her son is in jail, her husband has been disgraced and the family is deeply in debt. Mariëtte Becker still runs her preschool – and is clinging to her self-esteem.

Her son, Christoff (24) is one of the so-named Waterkloof Four who beat a homeless man to death. Her husband, Christo – until last year headmaster at Pretoria’s Hoërskool Waterkloof – was recently in hospital, reportedly after suffering either an epileptic seizure or a heart attack.

Pretoria is buzzing with rumours that he took an overdose of pills. The picture of confidence – some said arrogance – during his son’s high-profile trial, he was sacked amid allegations of financial irregularities involving R5 million. Mariëtte refuses to believe her husband would try to kill himself. ‘‘He would never take an overdose,’’ she says adamantly.

The family’s life imploded in December 2001 when Christoff and three friends, Frikkie du Preez, Gert van Schalkwyk and Reinach Tiedt, brutally assaulted and killed an unemployed man in Moreleta Park, Pretoria. After a lengthy trial and several appeal attempts they were jailed for 12 years.

In spite of their conviction Mariëtte doesn’t accept her son committed the crime. ‘‘My Chrissie would never do something like that,’’ she says.

“Before Chrissie’s court case we had a dream life. Now everything is shattered. But it comforts me to think God has a purpose for everything.’’

She’s allowed to visit Christoff once a week, for half an hour on Saturdays, but she knows little about his life behind bars. ‘‘Chrissie doesn’t actually tell us about it.’’

Mariëtte doesn’t bemoan the loss of her glamorous, wealthy lifestyle. ‘‘Of course it was nice to be able to buy all those fine things but I realise now you need only one house, one car and a little bit of food to survive.’’

Read the full article in the YOU of 12 August 2010.

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