20 July 2006 # 979

horrible memories

For four terrifying hours he lay tied up on the floor as the intruders drank his beer and fried his meat in the kitchen. Geoff Kalkwarf prayed for his life every time one of the intruders came near him , convinced he'd feel the barrel of the gun pressing into his flesh.

But what made his ordeal all the more traumatic was the knowledge they were waiting for something more precious to him than his own life: his wife.

Clare (56) was working late, attending a meeting at the charity she and Geoff had helped establish. The 60-year-old grandfather had told his attackers she wouldn't be back for hours.

"That's fine," one of the intruders replied. "We'll wait."

So they did - and the mental torture Geoff suffered as he lay helplessly on the floor of their home in Mandeni, KwaZulu-Natal, is beyond anyone's worst nightmares.

In the end a couple of flicks of a knife and a single gunshot ended the terrified woman's life before the men got into Clare's car and fled into the night.

"Perhaps her screaming was too much and they wanted to shut her up," a heartbroken Geoff says. "Or maybe somebody had a grudge against her. But I can't imagine anyone having anything against Clare..."

"Clare loved to comfort people," her sister-in-law, Gwynith Sprake, says.

Gwynith called YOU to tell us about Clare's shocking murder after reading about our Unite Against Crime campaign. "I just had to call." she says. "If people don't speak up all these awful things will continue. By speaking out you create some light at the end of an awful tunnel. From a lot of sadness some good may come."

No one deserves to die like that, least of all  Clare who devoted all her free time to helping others, Gwynith says.

Geoff and Clare co-founded the charity Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, which has a care centre for patients with HIV/Aids. Clare managed the centre and was working late one warm night in April, oblivious of the evil waiting at her home.

Her husband arrived home shortly before 7.30 pm after visiting a friend. He unlocked the door, turned around to pick up his things - and came face to face with four men. One pointed a gun at his face. "We'll shoot you, you bastard," he snarled.

The four men forced him into the house, pushed him onto his stomach and tied him up. Then they demanded to know what time Clare would be home.

"I said she always got home late - maybe not before two in the morning. I felt pure terror when they said they'd wait."

And so Geoff's four hours of sheer hell began. First the men searched the house for guns. When they found none they turned on the TV. After a while two went into the kitchen.

"They cooked the meat and drank the beer I had in the fridge. Every time they came near me I thought, 'This is it'. I was convinced I was going to get a bullet.

"But mostly my mind was consumed with thoughts of what would happen to Clare. I thought they might rape her and then shoot me. But I thought they'd leave her alive."

At around 11 pm Geoff heard Clare's car approaching. His heart sank. Three of the robbers had gone outside. Then they heard Clare shout, "What are you doing?"

"She was screaming and I think she must have tried to escape - I heard her voice moving away. But the guys stopped her."

Then a shot rang out and everything was quiet. "I waited for a sound from Clare but nothing came. The guys came back and picked up our TV, DVD player, laptop and a few bottles of whisky and packed everything into the car."

Minutes after hearing them leave Geoff, still tied up, inched his way out of the room using his chin and toes. "Eventually I saw my wife lying on the bottom step at the front door."

Soon afterwards a member of the neighbourhood watch arrived, untied Geoff and helped him to his feet. He went over to Clare.

"It was then I realised my wife of 36 years was no longer alive," Geoff says sadly. She'd been stabbed twice before being shot in the back.

Geoff is now leaving South Africa to join his three children and grandchildren in England.

"Clare loved South Africa and didn't want to leave," he says softly. "But crime is getting out of hand here and I don't want to be the next one to go."

But the horror of that night will probably stay with him forever." ...

Erase horrible memories (original article - full text - in YOU magazine)


This page was created on 19 July 2006 and last updated on Tuesday, 23 August 2011 00:37:58

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