Ex-lover of Sizzlers victim pours out his heart: ‘No one knew him like I did’

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Sergio de Castro was one of the nine men killed in the Sizzlers massacre. (Photo: Supplied)
Sergio de Castro was one of the nine men killed in the Sizzlers massacre. (Photo: Supplied)

He learned of the news through a Facebook post. The man who had killed his lover was up for parole. For Eugene Havemann it was a shock – how could Adam Woest, one of the men who murdered nine people in what became known as the Sizzlers massacre, be set free?

“When I saw that, everything flashed before my eyes like a movie,” Eugene says. “I was very upset.”

Eugene is the former lover of Sergio de Castro, one of the nine men brutally killed in the mass murder 18 years ago. That January, Adam Woest and Trevor Basil Theys walked into the Sizzlers massage parlour in Sea Point armed with knives and weapons. They tied up each of their victims, slit their throats and shot them.

The men were found guilty on nine counts of premeditated murder, one of attempted murder and one of armed robbery. Theys died of a heart attack in 2008 but Woest (45) is now up for parole.

Eugene Havemann has opened up about his relationship with Sergio de Castro. (Photo: Supplied)

Knowing Sergio’s killer could be a free man again has reopened old wounds for Eugene. For years he suffered in silence but now he’s opening about his relationship with Sergio because he wants people to remember him.

“There’s a story about every boy who was there except Sergio,” Eugene says. “Nobody knew Sergio.

“He had one or two friends in Cape Town, but nobody knew him the way I did.”

The two met in Johannesburg five years before the murders, when Sergio was 17. The teenager was living in a foster home and had been introduced to Eugene through his foster brother.

“I could see he was quiet and looked terribly sad,” he recalls. When Eugene left the family’s home after dinner that night, Sergio ran after him, begging him for help. He claimed his foster home was abusive and his foster mother hated him.

There's a story about every boy except Sergio.
Eugene Havemann

Eugene agreed to let him sleep over. A month later they approached the courts where a judge released Sergio from the care of his foster family and agreed to let him live with Eugene, who was 23 at the time.

The pair started a romantic relationship after Sergio turned 18, but it was tragically short-lived. Sergio, who worked at a local music store, was persuaded by a colleague to work for a massage parlour “to make quick money”, Eugene says. “He just disappeared one day. I got home and everything was gone.”

When he found Sergio working as a masseuse at a Kensington parlour, he begged him to give up his job. “But he just turned around and went into the house.”

Eugene Havemann (left) with his husband Anthony de la Hunt. (Photo: Supplied)

Though their relationship had ended abruptly, Eugene still cared about his ex. One night, Eugene, an alarm technician, was called out to a nightclub for work where he bumped into Sergio. Sergio, he says, told him he was working as a web designer.

He was stunned when months later, police showed up at his home and asked him to identify Sergio’s body. “I couldn’t sleep at all that night,” he recalls. “When you hear the person closest to you has been murdered, there’s no such thing as sleep.”

The next day a friend accompanied him to the morgue where he saw Sergio lying lifeless on the steel grey slab. “I bent down to kiss his forehead,” Eugene says.

“Because he was shot in the back of the head and the bullet passed through his left eye, he had a patch over it. The sheets they covered him with didn’t cover his neck completely and I could see parts where it was cut. It was very disturbing.”

Eugene battled to accept Sergio’s death and was admitted to hospital several times for mental health issues in the months. The death of his former lover hit him hard, but he managed to put the pain behind him with the help of his family and faith.

 “I prayed a lot,” Eugene says. “I think age also helped because you make peace with your past in your 40s.”

He’s found a forever love in his husband, Anthony de la Hunt (41), who’s helped him mend his broken heart. The couple, who live in Mokopane in Limpopo, have been together for seven years.

But there are still days when he misses Sergio’s laughter. “He had a kind heart,” Eugene says, tears welling. “He would give the clothes on his back to someone in need.”

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