A woman and her daughter were found dead at their home in Oribi Village, Pietermaritzburg on Thursday evening.
Rita Westpfaha (77) and her special-needs daughter Carol (58) were allegedly stabbed with a sharp instrument in the back of their heads.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Nqobile Gwala said their car was stolen but nothing was taken from inside the house. She said the car was later recovered in Amanzimtoti.
“Charges of murder and theft of a motor vehicle are being investigated by Alexandra Road SAPS,” said Gwala.
Neighbours who knew Westpfaha and her daughter said they were shocked at how they died and said it wasn’t the first time they were attacked at their home.
Westpfaha and her daughter had been staying at their Oribi home for over 20 years. Neighbours who spoke to Weekend Witness yesterday said they were still in shock and could not sleep properly since Thursday.
One of the neighbours who found the bodies said she walked past the house on Thursday afternoon and saw the gate open but the family car was not in the yard.
“I found that very strange and we tried to phone Rita but there was no answer. I went to close their gate just after 7.30 pm but decided to go in.
“I knocked and there was still no answer and I decided to open the door.
“That’s when I saw Rita’s legs and when the door opened further, Carol’s body — with just her top on and nothing at the bottom — was lying on the floor.
“I didn’t even go inside the house. when I saw the blood by the coffee table. I came back and asked my friend to call the police,” said the neighbour.
It was suspected that Carol may have been sexually assaulted but the police could not confirm this on Friday.
The neighbours said they had a good relationship with Westpfaha and her daughter. They said they always offered assistance to each other as neighbours.
“Rita was waiting for her daughter to turn 60 years old so they could both move to a retirement home.
“We can’t believe this happened, it’s so unreal. I almost shouted for her in the morning but remembered what had happened.
“I want to get away from this place but again I believe God will keep us safe,” said the other neighbour.
They said the crime rate in their area was high and that this had been reported numerous times to the police.
They said they were troubled by whoonga addicts who sometimes even force residents out of their homes.
2020 axe-attack ‘a scare tactic to hijack home’
In March 2020, The Witness reported that Westpfaha, Carol and Abie-Walter Smith (85) (who was Westpfaha’s partner) were attacked by an axe-wielding intruder in their home.
Smith and Westpfaha were both struck once on the head, while Carol was hit twice on the back of her head.
They were rescued from the attack after Westpfaha managed to run outside and screamed for help and neighbours ran to their aid. The axeman fled on foot and disappeared into the nearby shrubbery.
Odette Krauser, a relative, said at the time that they suspect the break-in was intended to scare the family to move out of their house so the attacker could move in. Krauser told The Witness that the unknown man entered the house apparently through an open back door.
She said the family suspected that the burglary was a “scare tactic” to hijack their home.
“He didn’t ask for anything, he just started attacking but we know this to be their modus operandi.
“The whoonga boys have been terrorising residents to drive them out of this area so they can take over their properties.
“You don’t get threats. You just get hit. … The whoonga is rife here and it is destroying the whole village.
“The addicts throw you out and sell the house so that they have money to feed their addiction.”
In October that year, Westpfaha was drugged in her own home by a thief pretending to be a good Samaritan who asked her to smell a small bottle with a very strong substance that made her dizzy. The man took the gold chain she wore from her neck, a gold bracelet, two rings and three cellphones.
Speaking to The Witness then, Westpfaha said the man had offered to clean her jewellery after presenting her with a gift of six pillows.
“I thought it was my lucky day until he took out a small bottle with a very strong substance.”
Westpfaha said the smell from the bottle made her “dizzy and confused”.
“At that moment I was so confused and not thinking straight. “He asked for more jewellery and when I told him that I do not have more he went to my bedroom to look for himself.
“I was now struggling to walk. He asked if I have copper coins in the house and I said yes. He said I must give them to him so that he can weigh it and pay me.
“He looked so genuine because he also had his small weighing machine with him,” she said. Westpfaha said it had taken hours for her mind to clear.
She said the man told her he was going to his car to fetch money to pay her for her copper coins, but never returned.
She reported the incident to Alexandra Road police station.