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Three arrested for brutal murder of German tourist who gave hitch-hiker a lift

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The German tourist, aged 74, picked up a hitch-hiker in Limpopo and they travelled to the North West where he was convinced to go for drinks at a local liquor outlet. The hitch-hiker teamed up with two accomplices and allegedly robbed, tortured and murdered the tourist.

A 74-year-old German tourist was robbed and brutally murdered after he befriended a hitch-hiker who later allegedly teamed up with two other assailants. Picture: SAPS

THREE foreign nationals are scheduled to appear before the Northam Magistrate’s Court in Limpopo on Monday on charges of murder, following the robbery and killing of a German tourist on Saturday.

The police said the three suspects, aged between 24 and 46, were arrested in connection with the brutal assault and murder of the tourist, aged 74.

The German man departed from Botswana on Friday and drove into South Africa in a small hatchback.

“He arrived at Lephalale in the Waterberg District (Limpopo) on Saturday morning and as he drove, he offered an unknown male hitch-hiker a lift,” said Limpopo police spokesperson Colonel Malesela Ledwaba.

Along the way, the tourist apparently requested his passenger to assist with finding accommodation in the North West province ahead of his tour across South Africa.

“Preliminary reports indicate that the pair established a friendship to an extent that the victim requested the man (the hitch-hiker) to drive his vehicle. On arrival at the said accommodation, supposedly in Moruleng (North West), the suspect suggested they pass by a liquor outlet where they had a few drinks,” said Ledwaba.

“That is when the suspect informed his two friends that the elderly man is expecting a substantial amount of money from his family abroad.”

A 74-year-old German tourist was robbed and brutally murdered after he befriended a hitch-hiker who later teamed up with two other assailants. Picture: SAPS

The police believe the hitch-hiker then teamed up with two accomplices, before they attacked the elderly visitor.

“The suspect and his two friends drove with the unsuspecting victim to his place, where, upon arrival, they tied him up and started to assault him while demanding his bank PIN code. They also searched him and took an undisclosed amount of cash and other valuables,” said Ledwaba.

The three assailants then removed the vehicle’s number plates and drove with the victim while assaulting him to Northam in Limpopo.

The police said that to avoid detection, the assailants used a secluded gravel road.

“When they reached a certain farm, two suspects dragged the victim from the vehicle to dump him in the bushes, while the driver remained in the vehicle,” said Ledwaba.

“Security officials, together with a member of a rural safety, while patrolling, noticed a suspicious vehicle parked at night and without number plates. They stopped to investigate, and that’s when they noticed the suspect’s blood-stained T-shirt and they notified the police.”

When police officers arrived at the scene, they started with initial investigations. Two of the three assailants had already fled the scene.

The body of the tourist was found in nearby bushes.

“An intelligence-driven operation was activated and the two suspects were arrested in the North West province later in the evening (on Saturday), in possession of some of the deceased’s belongings,” said Ledwaba.

The provincial commissioner of the SAPS in Limpopo, Lieutenant-General Thembi Hadebe, commended the police officers for the swift arrest of the suspected trio.

“The victim had trusted this ruthless criminal (the hitch-hiker), but he turned against him and, together with his friends, tortured and brutally killed him,” said Hadebe.

“We will work hard to secure a water-tight case that will result in a lengthy conviction for these perpetrators.”

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