Jamie Pyatt, Daily Mail, October 9, 2019
A brilliant psychologist and specialist in hate crime and violence in South Africa was brutally butchered and had her throat slit in her own home by a gang of armed robbers.
Leading scholar Dr Mirah Wilks was ambushed and attacked by the men who had waited until her husband Frank left to worship at the local synagogue, leaving her home alone.
The group had climbed up onto the roof and removed tiles and dropped down inside the house and stabbed Mirah at least twelve times in the chest and back then cut her throat.
Retired husband Frank, 72, returned home from evening worship on Sunday night and found the blood soaked body of his wife of 45 years lying dead on the floor of the family home.
Dr Wilks, 69, was renowned for her research into hate crimes, trauma and violence and was a highly respected former Chair of the Psychological Society of South Africa.
South African Police have launched a major man-hunt for the gang who struck at the home in Johannesburg and killed her just to steal two laptops and a mobile phone.
Former art teacher turned counsellor, Dr Wilks qualified last year with a PhD in Hate Crimes from the University of South Africa after spending many years in South Africa as a top psychologist.
She had also gained degrees at the University of Queensland in Australia and the University of Pennsylvania in the USA and was working at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg when she was murdered.
Dr Wilks had moved to Australia from Israel as a young girl and had a daughter Tarryn and son Brett in Melbourne, Victoria, with husband Frank and the family later emigrated to South Africa.
Dr Wilks had recently started important research into ‘resilience as a means of adaption and survival’ with a special focus on South Africa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
South African Police said they believed the men had waited for Mr Wilks to leave the home before breaking in through the ceiling to perhaps get round the security doors and windows.
A source said the helpless grandmother was stabbed at least twelve time and during the struggle the ruthless gang slit her throat before making off with two laptops and cell phone.
Police spokespeman Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said: ‘A case of murder is being investigated and the post mortem will determine the exact cause of death but a sharp object was used.
‘It was used in the fatal assault on the victim who was found by her husband when her returned home from church and we are appealing for witnesses to come forward.’
Professor Juan Nel who was a close friend of Dr Wilks, and her supervisor, said that the Pyschological Society of South Africa was distraught after learning of her murder.
He said: ‘Dr Wilks was the victim of a violent crime that took place in her home and Mirah’s untimely death has left us with a deep sense of loss that will affect all of us here.
‘Mirah was known to a great many of her colleagues in the psychology fraternity and was a good soul and a person in the profession who had great integrity and honour’ he said.
Counselling psychologist Dr Ingrid Artus said: ‘We have a scarcity of psychologists in South Africa and the service they provide to society are vital and her loss will impact on patients.
‘The work that she was doing in SA was vital to helping a country such as ours. This will perpetuate the fear that many associate with crime. She will be greatly missed,’ she said.
The Psychological Society of South Africa shared a poignant letter Dr Wilks had shared with her students, describing herself as a childhood polio survivor and Jewish refugee who had battled cancer.
‘Everyone has a story,’ Dr Wilks wrote. ‘I have often wondered how I survived, rebounded and found new pathways to health. What was the source of my ability to regenerate? Where was my source of hope and positivity? Did my attitude on life and my personality have anything to do with my experiences of resilience in adversity?’
The society added: ‘And hopeful and positive, she was. Always.’
Prince Harry has just returned from a royal tour of South Africa with wife Meghan and son Archie and both spoke out against the violence inflicted on women and children across the country.
Meghan, 38, tied a yellow ribbon to railings outside a post office in Cape Town where university student Uyinene Mrwetyana, 19, was tortured, raped and murdered days shortly before the visit.
She made the private pilgrimage with her detectives to pay her respects to the teenage victim of a brutal sex attack in a country where violence is rife and 21,000 people are murdered a year.