In the Shadow of the Noose

66-Gladstone-streetviewAround 8.30 a.m. on the morning of Monday 4 November 1974, Lehnberg arrived at Choegoe’s home. She said that her car was packed and she was on her way to Johannesburg, but before she left she needed Choegoe to come with her to van der Linde’s house. He claimed in a statement that it wasn’t until she handed him the Llama pistol on the way to Bellville that he realized that she wasn’t just going to say goodbye.

Her getaway car was a Ford Anglia and in evidence, her accomplice, Marthinus Choegoe stated that "...die missies het baie vinnig gery."

Her getaway car was a Ford Anglia and in evidence, her accomplice, Marthinus Choegoe stated that “…die missies het baie vinnig gery.”

They arrived outside the house just after 9 a.m. Mrs van der Linde was alone inside. From this point on, Choegoe’s account and Lehnberg’s account of what followed, differ. Lehnberg claimed that she got out of the car, rang the doorbell and returned to the car while Choegoe entered the house alone and committed the murder. Choegoe, however, maintained that they acted in concert throughout. (Choegoe’s account was supported by a neighbour of the Van der Linde’s, Mrs Gloria Marais. On the morning in question, Mrs Marais had walked past Lehnberg’s white Ford Anglia twice in the space of ten or twelve minutes while it was parked opposite the van der Linde house. On both occasions the car was empty.)

Choegoe said that after Lehnberg rang the bell, they went into the house together. When Mrs van der Linde saw them both, she became extremely frightened and threatened to telephone the police. She attempted to get away, but was tripped by Lehnberg, fell and hit her head on the door. While Mrs van der Linde was on the floor, Lehnberg struck her on the jaw with the pistol butt. On Lehnberg’s instructions, Choegoe began to throttle the semi-conscious Mrs van der Linde.

Choegoe’s evidence was that they had acted in concert throughout, and that Lehnberg had hit Mrs. van der Linde in the face with the pistol after tripping her up. Thereafter Choegoe had throttled her, and stabbed her with the scissors Lehnberg had given him.

Choegoe’s evidence was that they had acted in concert throughout, and that Lehnberg had hit Mrs. van der Linde in the face with the pistol after tripping her up. Thereafter Choegoe had throttled her, and stabbed her with the scissors Lehnberg had given him.

Lehnberg then gave him a pair of scissors she had taken from the sideboard. “I remember stabbing her three times,” Choegoe said. (The pathologist noted seven stab wounds, six of which hod penetrated the chest.)

After the murder, Lehnberg squirted green dye over Choegoe using a Weapon gas pistol belonging to Mrs van der Linde. (Mrs van der Linde kept the gas pistol, which was designed to deter intruders, behind a picture in the living room.) After warning Choegoe that she would deny any involvement in the murder if he went to the police and that the green dye would prove he is guilty, Lehnberg took him home. She set off for Johannesburg, collecting two speeding tickets at Beaufort West on the journey.

Susanna van der Linde’s body was discovered at about 1 p.m.

Choegoe kept both of the pistols that were used at the scene of the crime. They were later seized by the police. When Choegoe was asked why he hadn’t thrown the pistols away, he replied: “It is very dangerous to just throw pistols away.”

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