Man to plead guilty to hammer murders: The Herald

Accused also appears for domestic violence

AMAN accused of brutally beating an elderly woman and her son to death with a hammer abandoned his bail application yesterday, shortly before confirming he would plead guilty to the murders.

Morne van der Linden, 29, stood solemnly in the dock as he appeared briefly in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court.

He is accused of murdering his wife’s grandmother, Catherine Stofberg, 79, and her son, Kenneth Morar, 54, at their Salsoneville home on August 9.

Van der Linden was arrested hours after the incident after allegedly informing a family member.

Shortly before his bail application, police orderlies took Van der Linden to another courtroom where he appeared on a charge of domestic violence regarding his wife, who had opened a case against him days before the murders.

His wife, who asked not to be named, claimed Van der Linden had threatened to kill her before the murders took place.

“I believe that he went there to find me. I was working a late shift that night,” she said.

Stofberg’s son, Leonard Morar, said the family was still struggling to come to terms with the murders.

“We just want answers as to why he did this. It is still very hard for the family and we cannot believe that this has happened. We are struggling to understand why he did this and if he snapped and went crazy or not,” he said.

State advocate Jason Thysse said a charge of robbery with aggravated circumstances would be added to Van der Linden’s murder charges.

He said that in light of Van der Linden’s confirmation that he planned to plead guilty, the state would make the necessary arrangements for the matter to be referred to the Port Elizabeth High Court.

Yesterday, more than 50 Democratic Alliance Women’s Network (Dawn) members protested outside the court to oppose Van der Linden’s bail application.

Ward 12 councillor Shirley Sauls said: “We are against him ever being released because of what he did. It was a very violent crime which he committed against his own family members.”

Dawn provincial chairwoman Celeste Barker said: “Our members are outraged. What happened here is horrifying, even more so because an elderly woman was so brutally murdered during Women’s Month.

“We have found that if we have a visible presence at court it makes a difference because the community is putting pressure on the justice system.

“One of the people killed here was a defenceless granny. These murders were brutal, violent and totally unnecessary.”

The case was postponed to October 1. — Lee-Anne Butler