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Ritchie guesthouse owner murdered

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The owner of a bed and breakfast in Ritchie, Gunther Schwalb, 68, was killed after he was struck with a rock against the head by intruders.

Gunther Schwalb. Picture: Supplied

THE OWNER of a bed and breakfast in Ritchie, Gunther Schwalb, 68, was killed after he was struck with a rock against the head by intruders on Thursday morning.

Schwalb, who owned the guesthouse for several years, had placed the bed and breakfast on the market and was planning to return to Germany.

Residents in the area believe that it was not an accident because death threats were previously made against him.

His wife, Felicity Schwalb, said she noticed that the lights of her car were still burning early Thursday morning.

“I never leave the lights on and woke my husband to go and investigate. We saw two men inside the yard and it appeared as if they were trying to steal the car. They started throwing rocks at us. I managed to duck the rocks but Gunther was not so lucky. He was hit on the side of his head and started bleeding.

“I told my husband to run back to the house. I pepper sprayed the suspects and they ran away.”

Gunther collapsed shortly after sitting down in a chair.

“I called the neighbourhood watch, 10111 and paramedics for help. I should never have woken him and he never deserved to die in such a cruel manner. He was good to me.”

Felicity stated that her husband was, during a previous incident, tied up at the chalets and assaulted.

“He was kicked and assaulted and the suspect is still serving time in prison. I advised him to rather return to Germany because he was under attack and people falsely labelled him as racist. How can you call him racist? I told him that I would not leave South Africa.”

She indicated that the intruders had also damaged her car.

She said that they were married for several years after meeting in Gordon’s Bay, when she was 38 years old.

“We went on holiday and we stayed at one of his guesthouses. Gunther was not a South African citizen and had to return every three months to Germany. I come from Kimberley but was living in Johannesburg at the time. After we met we kept in contact and he kept on sending me flight tickets to visit him in Germany.”

Felicity pointed out that Gunther was lying on her bed in Kimberley when he was reading the DFA and saw that there were plots to sell in Ritchie.

“As soon as he saw the plot he immediately fell in love with the place and decided to develop it. There was nothing here other than a carport and he built the entire guesthouse from scratch. We were later married.”

She indicated that crime and drug abuse had become the norm in Ritchie where youths were turning to crime and theft to fuel their addictions.

“I would like to continue to operate the guesthouse in Gunther’s honour, as it is the only facility in the area for guests to stay over.”

She said that Gunther was survived by a daughter who was residing in Germany and two grandchildren.

Neighbours in the area also noted that crime was rife in the previously quiet town and would keep an eye on Felicity to ensure that she was safe following the incident.

“There are frequent break-inns and we do not feel safe. Gunther was a good man and we are traumatised by his death.”

Police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Sergio Kock said the Modderriver police were investigating a murder that took place on Thursday, April 28 at about 4am at a residence in Ritchie.

He said the deceased found the two male suspects busy stealing his maroon Volkswagen Golf.

“The suspects allegedly pelted the 68-year-old owner with stones. He went back into the house where he collapsed and died. His wife called the police and the neighbourhood watch but the suspects fled the scene on foot. The investigation continues.”

Anyone with information regarding the incident or possible suspects can contact Detective warrant Officer Gertrude Steenkamp on 082 448 6082.

Felicity Schwalb. Picture: Soraya Crowie

Damaged windows from the rocks. Picture: Soraya Crowie
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