While nobody has apparently yet been charged for the murder of Heila Kilian (63), the brutal attack on Heila and a family group on 16 April at a farm outside Stilbaai has made international headlines . . .
The following article and video underneath was published in The Mirror and ironically gives much more detail of the group’s horrific experience and Heila’s last moments with her beloved sister than any South African media publication.
British family reunion barbecue in South Africa turns into bloodbath as masked men shoot dead woman in front of sister
Retired David Thomas, 67, wife Brenda, 61, and close friend Shaun Vorster, 51, were tackled to the ground and tied up as victim Heila Kilian, 63, died before them from a single shot
A Brit has described the harrowing moment a family reunion barbecue turned into a bloodbath when five armed men attacked his South African home and shot his sister-in-law through the heart.
Retired David Thomas, 67, wife Brenda, 61, and close friend Shaun Vorster, 51, were tackled to the ground and tied up as Brenda’s sister Heila Kilian, 63, died before them from a single shot.
Despite the horrific scene, devout Christian Brenda told their attackers that God still loved them – quoting scripture with a knife to her throat.
The group was enjoying a barbecue at 10pm in the back garden of their Questus Lighthouse home near Stilbaai, in the Western Cape when suddenly the men in masks and boiler suits pounced.
Father-of-two David was dragged into the darkness, had his head smashed repeatedly against a brick wall, had a gun put to his head and was told by his attackers they “hate whites”.
South African born wife Brenda – who met David when she was working as a school teacher in Dubai and he was working for a US corporation – pretended to be dead and lay on the floor.
The attackers did not fall for it though, beating her and putting a knife to her throat.
They threatened to kill her as they tied her up and all three feared they would all die that night.
Just half an hour before the horrific attack David had taken video that recorded the last moments of Heila laughing and giggling with sister Brenda as they toast each other with red wine.
Both play up for the camera and tease Shaun to smile for the video which David is filming as the embers of the food cooked in Heila’s honour finish off the meal they were never to eat.
Two bottles of red wine are seen open on the table as they prepared to dine.
David, from London, said: “My feet and hands were tied up and then tied to each other and I was trussed up like a turkey and gagged and then this robber put his gun up to my head.
“He said ‘I hate whites’ and I thought that was it and was just waiting for the bang from the gun to kill me but it never came. But the beatings and threats went on for hours and hours.
“My wife and I are devout Christians and we bought this small holding to develop it into a venue for uplifting people through music and song and art in the image of how we both see life.
“Even with a knife at her throat my wife was still quoting the scriptures to these men telling them that God still loved them – I have never seen anything like it. She was just so brave.
“We called this homestead the Questus Lighthouse and set up a coffee shop here. Brenda and I are musicians and artists and our plan was to turn this into a tranquil retreat from life.
“The four of us were enjoying a braai (barbecue) and having a drink. It was a lovely evening and then these men came round the corner and one of them just shot Heila dead through the heart.
“I didn’t see it myself as I had been bundled to the ground and was having my head beaten against a wall and when I was threatened with knives and guns and was sure I was going to die.
“They had triangular yellow masks on under balaclavas and orange boiler suits and it was almost like they were in uniform.
“The three of us that were still alive were dragged in different directions, beaten and tortured with the threat of death from knives and guns. I didn’t know if my wife was still alive.
“We do not have money here and I kept telling them that. But they had information about Shaun and kept hitting him with a rock until he opened his safe and there was R40,000 (£2,350) in cash in there.
“They took that, two rifles, a shotgun and pistol and threw it into my bakkie (station wagon) which they drove off in. They were headed back to Cape Town judging by the way they were going”.
Unknown to David, Brenda had managed to untie herself and jumped over a steep ledge behind the house 3 metres onto the hard Earth and begun running through the bush in the pitch black to safety.
David said: “She ran a quarter of a mile through the harshest vegetation you can imagine with snakes and scorpions out there and jagged rocks and thorns and even got through a barbed wire fence.
“These five guys left after about two hours of putting us through hell and convincing us were going to die but then they left . Shaun said although tied up he was going to wriggle to the neighbours home.
“How he got there I don’t know but he managed to wake them up banging on the door.
“They raised the alarm and the South African police turned up and when Brenda saw it was safe she was able to shout out in the dark and let them know where she was and was rescued.
“Shaun was brought back to the house and he told me that Heila had been shot dead. It was a single shot through the heart. She died instantly. She had not offered them any resistance.
“I assumed all the way through my wife was dead as well but what I found out later what with her being threatened with death with a knife and a gun and escaping is that she went through hell.”
The retired engineer waited until he was sure that the five men had left and wriggled into the kitchen and found a serrated kitchen knife he used to begin cutting through his bonds with.
David said: “The next thing Shaun comes in and says : ‘Heila has been killed but Brenda is OK’. I was in total shock as Heila and Brenda were sisters and they were just so close.
“Brenda hadn’t seen her older sister for over a year and was overjoyed when she had come down from Johannesburg and they were enjoying their second day with an evening braai.
“She has been taken away from us and from her wonderful family,” he said.