British Woman Murdered and Husband Left for Dead in South Africa After Being Tortured With a Blowtorch
Jamie Pyatt and Sam Webb, The Sun, February 23, 2017
They were asleep in bed at home in Dullstroom in Mpualanga province when three black males broke in through a window at 2am and tied the terrified couple up.
The gang refused to believe Sue Howarth, 64, and husband Robert Lynn, 66, did not have a safe and burned their bodies with a blowtorch as they screamed for help on their remote farm 150 miles from Pretoria.
Police said they were put through a horrific ordeal lasting several hours in which they were also savagely beaten around the head and cut with a knife.
Eventually the three men bundled the married couple into their own pickup truck.
Sue, originally from Southsea in Hampshire, had a plastic bag jammed down her throat and Robert had a bag tied round his neck in an effort to strangle him.
They were driven to a mountain pass where Sue was shot twice in the head and Robert once in the neck.
Incredibly Robert survived, managed to free himself and found his terribly injured wife nearby.
She was rushed to hospital but died 48 hours later after slipping into a coma. Police said she was unrecognisable from her injuries
She had multiple fractures to her her skull and gunshot wounds and horrific burns from the blow torch to her breasts.
Her husband was treated in the intensive care unit but astonishingly survived and has returned home.
Distraught Robert has been discharged from hospital and returned to their farm and told his local paper the Middleburg Observer he had to “face the demons”.
He said: “I have to come to terms with losing my best friend.
“I woke up because the dogs were barking and there was a racket at the bedroom window. After I stood up, I heard glass breaking.
“I suppose that is when they started shooting at us. I assumed they missed. They were wearing balaclavas and attacked us.”
Mr Lynn was pistol whipped and ordered to lie down.
He said: “They kept on asking where the money is. I told them that we don’t keep money but they would not believe me.”
Mr Lynn gave them a couple of hundred Rand he had in a money clip and his bank cards.
Shortly after his attackers started burning him with a blow torch on his chest and legs.
His hands were tied with twine and the robbers then started cutting him with a knife in order to get him to confess to keeping more money or a gun safe somewhere.
He said: “They were looking for things we just don’t have.
“I said to them that whoever gave them their information, gave them the wrong information. One of them replied with ‘No they didn’t’.”
Mr Lynn kept on calling to his wife in the bedroom but said she did not answer.
He said: “The small dark one, who seemed to be the leader, smacked me over the head with his gun and told me to shut up.”
Mr Lynn was put in the back of their Nissan pickup and his attackers pulled a black bag over his head.
He said: “I suppose they wanted to suffocate me but I managed to bite a tiny hole through the bag through which I could breathe.”
He heard his wife moaning as she was thrown into the back of the pickup.
The attackers struggled for a while to reverse the vehicle out of the parking bay.
He said: “I thought we were going to Dullstroom to withdraw money. But then they turned towards Belfast.”
The attackers drove on back roads through Belfast and Siyathuthuka and onto the road towards Stoffberg.
He said: “They kept on stopping and going and when they stopped for good they pulled me out of the vehicle by my hair.”
The robbers walked him into the field, where he had to crawl through a barbed wire fence and was ordered to get on his knees.
He said: “That was the last thing I remember. I thought I was dead after that until I looked up and saw the stars.”
It took Mr Lynn some time to free his hands, after he crawled back to the road.
He said: “When I got to the road, something told me to turn right. But left made more sense because it was downhill. I turned right.
“I was not steady on my feet so I crawled most of the way. I thought I heard a cow mooing. Later I realised that it was Susan moaning.
“I crossed the road, crawling most of the way. On the other side I saw Susan, lying in a ditch. Her hands tied behind her back. She was bleeding from her head.
“I didn’t know what to do. I could see that she was in a very bad state. I could sit with her but the best thing would be to try and get help.
“So I stood next to the road. Five trucks and two cars passed me hooting their horns as they did but they did not stop.”
His saviours were two friends who drove by as dawn broke.
Devastated Mr Lynn said: “Susan was a great girl. She had a great life – just to end up in a ditch with her hands tied behind her back.”
It was the third violent farm attack in the province this month.
Border collie lover Sue was extremely well known in sheepdog trial circles and had three rescue dogs of her own.
Provincial police spokesman Brigadier Leonard Hlathis said: “They were sleeping on Sunday when they were attacked by three men. This was a violent and horrific attack and we are searching for those responsible.”
The couple’s blue Nissan pickup truck was found abandoned in Middleburg.
Susan moved to Dullstroom in 1996 and started the Dullstroom Stables before the farm Marchlands where she was attacked became her home.
She passed away in the Midmed Hospital on Tuesday morning never regaining consciousness after the attack.
Her ashes will be flown to Southsea in England where she will be buried with her parents. She was an only child.
Meanwhile Robert Lynn says he will try to pick up the pieces in Dullstroom.
He said: “I am amazed how good people have been to me. But I will never be able to forget what evil people are capable of.”
Close friend Claire Taylor invited local paper the Middleburg Observer into the hospital to photograph Sue in bed to show the full horror of what local farmers are going through.
She said at the time: “Sue is such a powerful person. She is so strong. She is straight shooter.
“She would have wanted the world to see what happened to her. What they did to her.”
Before settling in Dullstroom, Sue was at the head of a pharmaceutical company in Johannesburg. She kept her maiden hame after marrying Robert who was an electrical engineer for Eskom.
A reward is being put together by friends of the couple to try and track down their evil attackers.
A spokesman for the Democratic Alliance said yesterday: “Sue and husband Robert were overpowered and tortured and left left for dead.
“Since the beginning of February 30 farms have have been attacked and 15 people have lost their lives in farm attacks across the country.
“We simply cannot allow these horrendous acts to continue and or our rural communities to live in fear.
“We call on the Government to employ rural safety units to protect rural communities from rural crime.”
A close friend of Sue’s told a local paper: “She had a heart of gold who made a strong impression on people wherever she went.
“Robert will be devastated at her loss. This is just horrific and it what happened was just pure and hateful and pointless torture.”
Col. Phela Mahlangu, head of the detectives at the Middelburg Cluster, said that a task team has been established to work on the case around the clock.