Grave murder: The story of the brutal Welkom killing, by Jana van der Merwe
Jana van der Merwe's book 'Grave murder: The story of the brutal Welkom killing' is the chilling account of a heinous crime that is alarmingly similar to those committed by South African serial killer Ed Gein, who had a preference for flaying his victims’ skin. It is one of only ten known cases of skinning to have been documented.
Discovering the murder scene
In the silence of his office, the graveyard supervisor startled as the cellphone sitting on his orderly wooden desk trembled unexpectedly. Ephraim Morolong frowned as he looked at the name flashing on the screen, the piercing sound disturbing the calm. He had arrived just a moment before with the workmen to take on a hard day of overtime labour at the Welkom cemetery instead of attending church that Sunday morning. Morolong, an upright middle-aged man with short salt-and-pepper hair, had reported for work at 8 a.m. sharp to get a grip on the long grass that had grown lush after the summer rains. The morning's weather had been pleasant and it promised to be a sunny day. The weather bureau predicted more rain for that week, however, and for Ephraim this would only mean more work for his already short-staffed team. He was in on a Sunday himself hoping to get ahead on some urgent paperwork before handing in his quarterly report on Monday. Surrounded by flat, grassy, rural landscape, maize crops, cattle farms and mine dumps, the Welkom cemetery is isolated from the mining city of Welkom, which is set in the Goldfields of central South Africa, approximately 150 kilometres north of Bloemfontein, the Free State province's capital city. The city's main burial ground lies at the foot of one of these mine dumps, less than seven kilometres outside of the city and on the R30 towards the town of Odendaalsrus. This massive terrain, with at least 10 000 graves, had begun to look increasingly downtrodden and unkempt over the years, the ever-increasing number of graves having become overwhelming. Ephraim had armed the small group of men and women, clad in dark-green overalls and hats, with picks and shovels to get on with the day's work before he put on the kettle and settled down at his desk with his paperwork. 'Ephraim, you have to come see this,' said the frantic voice in Sesotho at the other end of the phone line. Although locals would regularly tell one another that the cemetery is a popular hangout for illegal miners, known as zama-zamas, who perpetrate crime in the area, Ephraim had never had any problems. Apart from all the burials he oversees every day of the week, only once had he come across a dead body that was not brought there to be buried -a father and husband who had come to the graveyard one night to put an end to his life and financial woes with a single bullet to the head. Ephraim found his ice-cold body the next morning between the entrance and the parking lot. Another time, he had come across a young woman with her head thrown back on the verge of unconsciousness in her small vehicle, her breathing shallow. Ephraim hastily disconnected the hosepipe pumping its toxic and suffocating fumes from the exhaust and jerked the other end out of her car window. Smashing the glass to unlock the door, he dragged her unconscious body to safety. She survived. The unsung hero continued his work. That Sunday, 3 April 2011, Ephraim could hear the alarm in Daniel Ranthimo's voice. Daniel, his trusted foreman and six years his junior, had also just arrived, along with Ephraim and the others from the township of Thabong. He was pushing a lawnmower towards the yellow boom gate when he made the find. [...]
This is an excerpt from the book 'Grave murder: The story of the brutal Welkom killing', by Jana van der Merwe.
Title: Grave murder
Author: Jana van der Merwe
Publisher: Penguin Random House South Africa
Imprint: Zebra Press
Cape Town, South Africa, 2015
ISBN 9781770227767/ ISBN 978-1-77022-776-7
Softcover, 15 x 23 cm, 288 pages, several photos
van der Merwe, Jana im Namibiana-Buchangebot
The report 'Grave murder' tells the story of the gruesome and brutal Welkom (South Africa) killings in April 2011.