Thirteen years after Marike De Klerk met her violent, lonely end
“Luyanda, could you please come help me carry my shopping bags”, said a smiling Mrs De Klerk to the man who would become her killer. She had just returned from Checkers, and stopped at the gate to request help from Mboniswa, who was 21 at the time of his arrest and employed as a security guard at de Klerk’s apartment building in Blaauberg, Cape Town.
Marike de Klerk, 64, ex-wife of former president FW de Klerk, had recently been receiving treatment for a broken wrist in Pretoria. Two days ago she contacted friends to let them know she was back in the Cape and that she had just been through a “very morbid time”. She was also treated for depression while in Pretoria. But returning to Cape Town from an overseas holiday that took her away from home, she seemed to be in high spirits.
Mboniswa was employed by Securicor Gray, the company assigned to protect the apartment block north of Cape Town where South Africa’s previous First Lady, Mrs Marike de Klerk, was living. The former first lady lost her right to state protection when she and former President FW de Klerk divorced in 1998 after 39 years of marriage.
“I knew Mrs De Klerk very well”, says the man who stabbed her so violently that the knife’s blade broke off, before he strangled her to death. “She was always very polite and friendly with me”, he adds.
De Klerk’s body was found at approximately 16:00 the next day. Mrs De Klerk’s beautician Yolanda Wright arrived at the security control room looking for De Klerk, who had not kept an appointment the previous day. She asked one of the guards to accompany her to De Klerk’s flat.
Kelvin Cornelius the senior guard at the complex went to De Klerk’s flat. He got a ladder and Cornelius then climbed on to the balcony and entered through the sliding doors of De Klerk’s bedroom. No sooner had Cornelius entered De Klerk’s room, when he immediately shouted for Ntshuba to call an ambulance.
The next moment Wright, who had also climbed up the ladder, started crying hysterically, saying: “I knew, I knew something was wrong.”
Security guard Mkululi Ntshuba said he was sent by Cornelius to fetch a spare key to the front door of De Klerk’s flat. He said he asked Cornelius what had happened and Cornelius replied that De Klerk had passed away.
Ntshuba said at one stage he was also in the apartment and saw “something covered on the floor.” This was De Klerk’s body which Cornelius had covered with a sheet from her bed. Cornelius found Mrs de Klerk, 64, still dressed in her pyjamas and slumped in the hall, on the floor of the flat on the first floor of the Dolphin Beach Club complex. She was already dead.
Former president FW de Klerk, was in Oslo, Norway for the 100th Nobel Peace Prize celebrations.
Marike De Klerk attended the baptism of her youngest grandchild and namesake, the three-month-old Marike Hillocks, in Pretoria on the previous Sunday a fortnight ago. She also made arrangements with her daughter and son-in-law, John and Susan Hillocks, to look after the baby over Christmas. “This past weekend we were still discussing her visit,” her son in law said upon hearing the dreadful news. His wife Susan was too shocked to comment.
Jan de Klerk, Marike De Klerk’s eldest son, who farms near Lichtenburg, said on Tuesday night everything was just starting to stabilise in his mother’s life. “The initial sadness was, to an extent, something of the past. We talked over the weekend and everything was hunky-dory.”
At first, almost everyone presumed that Marike de Klerk – former wife of South Africa’s last white president – had killed herself. She did not hide her deep melancholy after FW de Klerk took off with another woman. South Africa’s former first lady told close friends that she wished she were dead.
Mystery surrounded the death of Marike De Klerk. Although earlier reports suggested De Klerk took her own life, the police refused to confirm this rumour. Other rumours had De Klerk dying of a bullet wound through the chest. Again, the police would not comment. Police were not prepared to give any information on the cause of death, saying they were waiting for pathologists to complete their investigation.
John Hillocks said shortly after the murder that they did not believe the break-up of her relationship with Johan Koekemoer or his subsequent wedding had anything to do with De Klerk’s death. “As far as we know they parted amicably and there was no bitterness. There were no hard feelings.”
Unnamed police detectives were quoted as saying that South Africa’s former first lady might have been murdered to silence her, because she might have threatened to inform police about a diamond smuggling network which involved someone close to her.
Mrs De Klerk was apparently approached “by a person who wanted to borrow money from her for a “transaction”, but she refused. “The person involved either murdered her personally or hired someone to do it at a fee,” the source said.
The flat was tidy and did not appear to have been been ransacked, although her cellphone still seemed to be missing. When the news that she had in fact been murdered first filtered out radio station phone lines were pounded with angry callers venting their spleens about crime. If even the wife of a former president can be murdered, what hope is there for everyone else?
On a dresser in De Klerk’s bedroom a detective found the key to the front door, which had been locked. In her handbag he found a purse and cheque book but no cash. He also found a business card which indicated that De Klerk had a cellphone, but no cellphone was found in the flat. Investigating officer Superintendent Mike Barkhuizen said he learnt that the back door had been found unlocked as had the sliding door from the lounge on to the balcony facing the sea.
It was a call made from Mrs de Klerk’s aparment from this missing cellphone which was traced by police to a Khayelitsha telephone — and which had led to Mboniswa’s arrest and confession.
Luyanda Mboniswa, 21, was a South African security guard with a clean criminal record, who also is the sole financial supporter of his mother and siblings.
A week before the De Klerk murder, the security guard had also reported a burglary at his rented R100-a-month squatter shack in Khayelitsha township to police , during which music equipment had reportedly been stolen.
The security guard’s mother’s eyes had filled with tears as she watched a TV broadcast of the press conference retired South African President F W de Klerk had held following Marike’s memorial service in Cape Town on Saturday.
Mrs Cynthia Mboniswa said that Luyanda – her eldest child whom she had raised alone since the age of one when she divorced his father – paid the school fees of his younger siblings, Ayanda, 18, in Grade 10, and Andiswa, 10, in Grade 4. He also supported her and his 85-year-old grandfather.
“I cried when I heard,” she said. “I want to go to Cape Town, but I have no money. I’m afraid for him. He was not politically involved. “
An autopsy revealed that she was strangled to death at about 9am on Monday. Professor Deon Knobel, who carried out the autopsy, said that the killer gripped his victim’s neck with such force that he broke several bones in her throat and burst a blood vessel in her eye. She was probably on her knees when she died.
Prof Knobel said a steak knife with a broken handle was embedded in Mrs de Klerk’s back, although it was not what killed her. She also had several wounds to the head.
In Khayelitsha, Lilian Dyasi, who lived a few doors away from Mboniswa, said she was the mother of Mboniswa’s 22-year-old girlfriend, Victoria Dyasi.
She said both she and her daughter had been taken to Bishop Lavis Police Station for questioning on Friday afternoon. There, they saw Mboniswa for the first time since his arrest on Wednesday night at the Dolphin Beach apartment complex in Table View, where he worked and where the murder took place.
Dyasi said that although she was allowed to return to her home in Khayelitsha later on Friday afternoon, her daughter Victoria was detained for further questioning.
Dyasi said her daughter had known Mboniswa since he moved into their street in December last year, five months after he was employed by Securicor Gray in Cape Town.
Mkhumbuzi Ncedani, who rents out Mboniswa’s squatter shack to him for R100 a month, said that when detectives arrived at the premises on Friday afternoon, he thought they had come to investigate a burglary at the shack which Mboniswa had reported to police last weekend. Police had arrived last Sunday and lifted fingerprints at the shack, from which Mboniswa’s hi-fi set and other personal items had been stolen.
The shack is a 2m by 4m wooden structure with barely enough room for his double bed and a table. On Friday afternoon, the bed was strewn with Mboniswa’s clothing after detectives had rummaged through the shack, looking for Mrs De Klerk’s cellphone and any other clues. There, in a black coat, he found a torch which had gone missing from De Klerk’s flat. Engraved on the torch were the letters “WOF”, for Women’s Outreach Foundation. Detectives also found De Klerk’s gold Baume & Mercier wristwatch valued at R15 000 at the home of Mboniswa’s girlfriend Victoria Dyasi. The court heard earlier that the watch had been bought for De Klerk by her former husband, former president FW De Klerk, while on a state visit to Zurich in Switzerland. A week later, Barkhuizen again searched De Klerk’s apartment and inside a blue ottoman, among a bundle of linen, he found the handle of the knife.
The shack’s only decorations are a poster of football player Doctor Khumalo and a newspaper clipping of a successful local businessman.
A unit of the SA Police Service used sophisticated technology to identify the alleged killer within five hours of her body being discovered. According to police, members of the Pretoria-based unit made their conclusion at about 9pm on Tuesday.
The security guard was arrested and confessed before a magistrate to the murder ot Mrs de Klerk.
Mboniswa’s family, friends and employers were shocked at the confession by the guard — whom they said was ” a model employee and a breadwinner who supported the rest of his family.”
Mrs Susan Hillocks, Mrs de Klerk’s daughter, said she believed that the confessed killer had clearly gone to kill her mother. “It was like a terrible act of revenge. The brute force which he used to kill her, tells the entire story,” she told Rapport newspaper.
“If the suspected killer was simply out to rob her, he could have done so for the entire two months my mother had been away from her flat. He could have broken in throughout that time, he had all the time in the world to rob the flat, but no, he clearly wanted to kill her,” Mrs Hillocks said.
She said her mother was unarmed and did not own any firearms. It was not as if Mrs de Klerk was unaware of the need for security. As the wife of a high-profile politician, she was accustomed to life accompanied by bodyguards. After the divorce, however, she was reduced to driving around with a can of insect spray on the passenger seat for protection.
Read more about the murder trial on the next page