Friend turns foe: Hitchhiker, friends in court after killing of German tourist

A 74-year-old man was killed, allegedly by a hitchhiker turned friend, and two of his friends.

Three foreign nationals (aged between 24 and 46) appeared in the Northam Magistrate’s Court today after they were arrested in connection with the brutal murder of a 74-year-old German tourist on Saturday.

A lift to death?

Limpopo police spokesperson Colonel Malesela Ledwaba says in a statement that the tourist departed for South Africa from Botswana in a hatchback on Friday. It is said that he arrived in Lephalale in the Waterberg District of Limpopo the next day, and then offered a hitchhiker a lift.

Ledwaba says it is believed the tourist (whose identity is yet to be revealed by police) requested the man to assist him with accommodation in North West, where he intended to rest before embarking on the rest of his journey across the country.

“Preliminary reports indicate that the pair established a friendship, to the extent that the victim requested the man to drive his vehicle. On arrival at the said accommodation, supposedly in Moruleng, the suspect suggested they pass by a liquor outlet, where they had a few drinks. That’s when the suspect informed his two friends that the elderly man was expecting a substantial amount of money from his family abroad.”

Tortured tourists

Ledwaba explains the four drove the tourist to his accommodation and once inside, allegedly tied him up and started to assault him, demanding his bank pin. They also searched him and took an undisclosed amount of cash and other valuables, say police.

“The three suspects removed the vehicle’s number plates and drove with the victim, while assaulting him, to Northam in Limpopo, using a secluded gravel road. When they reached a certain farm, two suspects dragged the victim from the vehicle to dump him in the bushes, while the driver remained in the vehicle,” Ledwaba alleges.

He says security officials and a rural safety member noticed the parked vehicle without number plates and investigated.

“They noticed the suspect’s blood-stained T-shirt, and notified the police. Upon [the police’s] arrival, they started with their initial investigations, and the victim’s body was found in the bushes.”


The suspect was arrested, an intelligence-driven operation was activated and the other two suspects were arrested in North West later that evening. They had some of the deceased’s belongings in their possession, say police.

“The victim had trusted this ruthless criminal, but he turned against him and, with his friends, tortured and brutally killed him. We will work hard to secure a water-tight case that will result in a lengthy conviction,” adds provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe.

Embassy response

The spokesperson of the German Embassy in Pretoria responded to a query from Caxton Local Media this afternoon, saying: “The German Embassy in Pretoria is aware of the death of a German citizen in Limpopo. We are in close contact with the relevant authorities in South Africa and Germany and are offering assistance to the family of the deceased.”

He too did not disclose the identity of the victim ‘due to data regulations and the privacy of the victim and his family’. “The victim’s family members have been informed through the relevant authorities in Germany,” he added.


Limpopo NPA spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said the trio were in court, but could not confirm the outcome of the case by the time of publishing.

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