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Saturday, 28 June 2008

'Can't you save the baby?'

Virginia Keppler, Beeld

Pretoria - A pregnant woman was brutally murdered in her house in Waverley in Pretoria on Thursday by having her head beaten to a pulp.

The attackers then hid the body of the woman, who was eight months pregnant, under the duvet on her bed in Varing Street.

The unborn baby of Antoinette Botha, who was a nurse at Moot Hospital, did not survive the attack either.

The attacker(s) then collected household appliances but left them standing in the house and fled in Antoinette's black Mercedes Benz with registration number WRW 497 GP.

Tried to save the baby

Moments after her partner Pieter Moon, 39, and the couple's neighbours discovered Antoinette's body, paramedics tried in vain to find the baby's heartbeat.

"Can't they save the baby?"

"Can't they just try?" Jophie Moon, 73, Pieter's father, asked his daughters repeatedly.

When the paramedics walked out of the house, dejected and without the baby, the friends and family members knew it was over.

"Unfortunately we could not save the baby. There was nothing we could have done," an unsettled paramedic said.

Couple have another son

Antoinette and Pieter have another son, two-year-old Murelle.

Elize Botha, whose son lived next door to Antoinette and Pieter, said that when Pieter had arrived home, he noticed that everything was standing open.

"He came to ask my son Cobus to go into the house with him because he was scared there was someone in the house. When we came into the house, we looked everywhere for Antoinette."

"In the bedroom we just saw a bunch of duvets lying there. I was just feeling under the duvets when I felt a cold foot."

"They smashed her head to a pulp with a blunt object," Botha said, still shocked.

Jophie said Pieter had been at his (Jophie's) house to drop off his son and then went back home.

"He said the child had to stay with us for the night because Antoinette was going to work night-shift," Jophie said.

Tessa Keppler, Pieter's sister, said the family was very shocked. She said that her brother and his wife had been living in the house for four years.

"Antoinette would never have opened the door for strangers. She was very security-conscious," Keppler said.

She said that her brother, who had hoped to the end that the baby would be saved, was badly shocked.

"Where am I going to tell my son is his mother?" Pieter asked, disconsolate.

Anelise van Tonder, of the Karnallies play group in Waverley, went to the house on Thursday night to look after Murelle.

"He's going to sleep at my house tonight. I've known him since he was a baby. I love him very much," she said sadly.

Police spokesperson Inspector Susan du Preez said it was still unclear how the killer had gained access to the house.

Tessa said that apparently someone had tried to break in at the house earlier this week and the alarm had gone off twice.

Botha, who was originally from Zimbabwe, would have worked her last shift on Thursday night and would have been on maternity leave as from Friday.

Tessa said Antoinette's family were to be informed of her death on Thursday night.