A well-known Douglas woman, Helen Janse van Vuuren, was on Tuesday stabbed to death by a robber inside an Absa bank while waiting to deposit money.
The 61-year-old grandmother was killed only a few minutes after walking from the local Spar, where she worked, to the bank, which is situated next to the store, to deposit cash belonging to the local supermarket.
The suspect went into the bank pretending to be a customer and was standing right behind Janse van Vuuren when he allegedly stabbed her three times in the back with a knife before running off with a suitcase containing money that she was going to deposit.
The suitcase contained around R30 000.
Police spokesperson, Captain Sergio Kock, said that the suspect was apprehended just hours after the incident.
“The police in Douglas followed up on information and arrested a 24-year-old male suspect at about 3 pm on August 28, 2018, in Breipal in Douglas. The police also found some money at his house and confiscated clothes, a bag and other goods. The investigation continues,” said Kock.
According to Janse van Vuuren’s daughter, Christine Janse van Vuuren, who manages the local Spar supermarket, her mother had volunteered to deposit the money at the bank as the person who usually did it was not at work on Tuesday.
“We usually do our banking at about 8.30am every morning. We have a security guard who escorts us to the bank. Once inside the bank, the security guard normally comes back to the store as one always assumes that it is safe inside the bank,” an emotional Christine said on Tuesday.
She pointed out that her mother did not usually do the daily deposits.
“The owner of the store was not here and I was going to go to the bank but my mother offered to do it and I agreed. I never thought or imagined that such a simple task, one we do every day, would ever turn out like this. What is heartbreaking is that she was stabbed three times for R30 000.”
Christine said that a short while after her mother had left to deposit the money, she heard that the bank had been robbed.
“We heard people screaming that the bank was being robbed. I realised that my mother was still inside the bank and rushed there. When I got inside, I saw my mother lying on the floor. I rushed over to her and felt her pulse. I could feel a very faint pulse but she had no pulse in her neck. I think she was already gone,” she said.
Christine said that the tragic incident happened just a few hours before the store started work on the installation of a tube that would transport money directly from the supermarket straight to the bank.
“We are upgrading our security system at the store and were working on installing a tube that will take the money we want to deposit straight to the bank so that we do not have to carry around cash. It came just too late to save my mother.”
Christine said that she had appointed her mother at the store in February after she retired from another grocery store.
“My mother was employed at the local OK for many years. She retired when she turned 60. She did not want to sit idle at home and I told her she could come work for me at the store. She was appointed as a cashier in February this year and she also helped me with my administration she became like my personal assistant. She was employed as a cashier at the OK and was later promoted to manager for their stationary department.”
Christine fought back the tears as she recalled the special moments she shared with her mother.
“It was my 40th birthday two weeks ago. My mother and brother planned a surprise party for me. I spent the day with my family and loved ones. We are three siblings and my brother is expecting a baby girl, which will be the first granddaughter in the family. My mother was so looking forward to holding her first granddaughter However, I know that, as a devout Christian who did a lot for the church, she is with God now.”
The atmosphere at the local supermarket was sombre on Tuesday as employees tried to carry on as normal, although some cashiers were reduced to tears as they manned their tills.
Kock confirmed the incident and said that police had arrested a suspect.
“The Douglas SAPS are investigating a case of armed robbery and murder after a woman was stabbed and robbed in Douglas. It is alleged that on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, at about 8.30am, the victim was inside the bank to deposit cash belonging to a local supermarket she works for when a male suspect entered and allegedly stabbed her with a sharp object before fleeing the scene with the money. The 61-year-old female died on the scene.
“The suspect covered his head and most of his face with a grey hoodie and was wearing dark glasses. He also had on an orange work overall with gloves. The police followed up on information and brought in one man for questioning, but he could not be linked to the incident.
“Police in Douglas followed up on information and arrested a 24-year-old male suspect at about 3 pm in Breipal in Douglas.
“Anyone with information regarding the incident can call Detective Captain James Oliphant on 082 495 4665. The investigation continues,” said Kock. IOL