Security company owner, supervisor settle with Zimbabwean widow
01 December 2021 | Justice
An Otjiwarongo security company owner and supervisor charged with the murder of a Zimbabwean woodcarver in 2020, agreed settle with the man’s widow after she sued them and three other security guards for N$1.7 million in damages.
Zimbabwean Hlaisanani Zhou (43) died from blunt force as a result of a deadly beating on 3 June 2020. Five men were charged with his murder, namely Gridhawk security company owner Jonathan Patrick Myburgh, Gridhawk supervisor Jandré Jansen van Vuuren, and three Gridhawk security guards.
The 2020 civil suit also listed Gridhawk Security Company and Savemore Supermarket as defendants.
The men all remain out on bail in the criminal matter.
Meanwhile, Zhou’s widow, Betserai Moyo in October last year filed a N$1.7 million civil suit against the men. This month, the High Court was informed that Moyo would withdraw her legal action against Myburgh, Gridhawk Security and Jansen van Vuuren, after successful settlement negotiations at the end of September.
Lawyers for the parties stated that the agreement is confidential.
In return, Moyo dropped the N$1.7 million civil suit against Myburgh, Jansen van Vuuren and Gridhawk Security.
A joint status report filed at court on 16 November, informed the court that Moyo has filed an application for a default judgment against the remaining three defendants.
The three are Gridhawk security guards who were also charged with the murder of Zhou alongside their bosses. They are Roberto Katjinamunene, Hendrick Simupureni and Kefas Kuutondokua.
It is alleged that the men attacked Zhou on 3 June 2020 after Zhou was accused of stealing a small tube of wood glue from Etemba Savemore in Otjiwarongo.
Assisted by the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), Moyo’s court papers accuse the five men of forcing Zhou into a backroom of the supermarket, where he was severely assaulted. After the beating, Zhou was “dumped near the road where members of the public witnessed him trying to stand and walk,” court papers state.
Eventually, a local businessman called the police and ambulance, but Zhou died from his injuries that same day.
The post-mortem revealed he died as a result of blunt trauma of the head, chest and abdomen.
Both Myburgh - 22 at the time - and Jansen van Vuuren - then 23 years old - tried to avoid arrest by fleeing. They were captured three days after Zhou’s death, and arrested on 6 June.
Moyo’s court papers indicate that she had a son with Zhou.
Zhou earned an average of N$10 000 per month from his woodcarving enterprise, which he used to support his family. Moyo said since his death, she and her son have been “destitute and are now relying on the goodwill of their respective families to make ends meet.”
In addition, she said the sudden and brutal death of her husband has left psychological scars. She also informed the court that none of the accused assisted her with the return of her husband’s body to Zimbabwe.
Both Myburgh and Van Vuuren have obtained private lawyers to defend the matter in court, while the security guards have to date not indicated whether they have obtained defence counsel to represent them or will defend the matter. Moyo is asking the court to issue a default judgment against them.
Francois Erasmus is acting on behalf of Gridhawk and its owner, and Christoffel Jansen van Vuuren is acting on behalf of Jansen van Vuuren.
The case was set down for a status hearing on Tuesday, but the parties asked that the matter be postponed to 3 December.
High Court judge Eileen Rakow is presiding.