Otjiwarongo security company settles with Zimbabwean widow

While the criminal matter is still before court, widow Betserai Moyo has withdrawn a N$1.7 million-dollar civil suit after successful settlement negotiations in September.

01 December 2021 | Justice



An Otjiwarongo security company’s owner and supervisor - charged with the murder of a Zimbabwean woodcarver - agreed to a settlement with the man’s widow after she sued them and three other security guards for N$1.7 million in damages.

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, including 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, although the agreement was posted on the public e-justice system after negotiations were finalised.

A joint status report filed on 16 November informed the court that Moyo filed an application for a default judgement against the remaining three defendants,

Gridhawk security guards Roberto Katjinamunene, Hendrick Simupureni and Kefas Kuutondokua, who were also charged with Zhou’s murder alongside their bosses.

Deadly accusation

It is alleged that the five men attacked Zhou on 3 June 2020 after he was accused of stealing a small tube of wood glue from Etemba Savemore in Otjiwarongo.

Assisted by the Legal Assistance Centre, 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, he 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 the same day.

The post-mortem revealed he died as a result of blunt trauma to 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 has a son with the deceased.

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 her with 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 Jansen 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 counsel to represent them.

Francois Erasmus is acting on behalf of Gridhawk and its owner, while Christoffel Jansen Van Vuuren is acting on behalf of Jansen van Vuuren.

The case was set 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.

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