A PORT ELIZABETH policeman is dead and a Uitenhage man is clinging to life after being stabbed 22 times in a gruesome attack on the two men that has left detectives baffled.
Willem Pretorius, a police sergeant at the Gelvandale Police Station, was found at 11.30pm on Thursday in his black Chevrolet Spark, which was parked in a clearing a few hundred metres off the R334 between Motherwell and Uitenhage.
Just a few metres from the car, Uitenhage biker Ary van Onselen, whose age or occupation could not be confirmed yesterday, was found with, according to one source, 22 stab wounds to his chest.
He was admitted to the Cuyler Clinic in Uitenhage where he was yesterday reportedly still in critical condition.
Just hours after police found Pretorius’s body, elite unit The Hawks were tasked with investigating the attacks.
Police at this stage do not know how the two men knew each other. Adding to the mystery is the fact that both men were separately reported missing earlier on Thursday.
Police launched a manhunt for Pretorius while Van Onselen’s friends and family mounted a search that included alerts and requests for help on social networks.
Pretorius, who is believed to live in Sherwood and who was off duty at the time of his death, was last seen at about 9am on Thursday at Profiles gym in Walmer Downs, according to an eblockwatch posting which reported him missing.
Pretorius then missed two scheduled appointments and a movie date with his son, which was meant to take place at 12pm.
Van Onselen was reported missing on Thursday morning and his Silver Honda VFR800 motorbike was later found abandoned in a Uitenhage parking lot.
Zonda van Zyl Pretorius, who is understood to be married to Pretorius, later posted on Facebook: “My husband was shot Marie, but I do not understand, how do Willem and Ary know each other? They were found together! My husband is dead.”
Police gave Weekend Post conflicting accounts of Pretorius’ injuries, with some reporting that he had been shot in the chest and others that he had been stabbed.
Port Elizabeth police, who described the case as sensitive, said all enquiries were to be put to provincial police and that they were not allowed to field questions or give out information.
Provincial police spokeswoman Colonel Sibongile Soci would not reveal yesterday how Pretorius and Van Onselen had been discovered. The motive for the attacks has also not been established. A car radio was stolen from Pretorius’s car.
No family members of Pretorius could be reached for comment yesterday.
A colleague of Pretorius at Gelvandale Police Station, who spoke on condition anonymity, described Pretorius as “a nice guy” who worked as a field trainer. The policeman refused to discuss the incident, saying police were under strict orders not to comment on the case.
When contacted, Van Onselen’s wife, Delayne van Onselen declined to speak to the media and handed the phone to another woman who said the family was still trying to establish what had happened. “We don’t know anything yet, we have no comment about this,” said the woman, who would not identify herself.
Earlier yesterday, Delayne posted on Facebook page Public Servant Network saying: Thanks to everyone who assisted in the search for Ary van Onselen. The police found him in bushes in Motherwell with knife wounds along his chest and body. He is currently at the Cuyler Hospital in Uitenhage’s high care unit. Further … all the other occurrences are still a mystery. Thanks to everyone – Delayne van Onselen.
Netcare Cuyler Hospital spokeswoman and marketing officer, Stef-Mari Harmse, confirmed that Van Onselen had been admitted but could not comment on his condition.
Acting provincial police commissioner, Major General Zamuthonga Mki said Eastern Cape police were shocked at the murder of the policeman and expressed condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased.
“The South African Police Service in the Eastern Cape mourns the senseless death of another police officer,” said Mki.
“At this stage the motive for the murder and attack is unclear and all possible avenues will be investigated.”