Note: The most notorious case is that of Sybrand
(Louis) van Schoor, a security guard and ex-policeman who shot dead 39+
alleged burglars over a few years. After each incident, magistrates
found that he had acted within the law; he was not once cautioned by the
police or the courts.
for seven murders and two attempted murders. He has been in
jail at the East London Prison since he was convicted in the Supreme
Court in April 1992.
Serial Killer released on parole after serving 12 years of
October 31, 2004
Killer Louis van
Schoor embraced and kissed his fiancé passionately,
when he was released on parole Friday after having served 12 out of of
20 years from Fort Glamorgan Prison in East London. Van
Schoor had been
convicted 1992 for seven murders and two attempted murders.
Schoor (53), a former member of the police dog unit and security guard,
made headlines worldwide, when suspicion arose, he had killed 39 people.
Once he confessed towards a journalist, having shot more than hundred
between 1986 and 1989 when active as security guard.
operandi was the same every time: He responded to silent alarms of
business premises, then shot suspects with his 9mm Parabellum.
daughter, the mother-murderer Sabrina van
Schoor (23) serves her 25
years in the same prison after hiring a hitman to slit her mothers
throat in 2002. She paid a man to kill her mother Beverly because she
had physically and verbally abused her. As the hitman stabbed her
mother, Sabrina waited in the bedroom with her baby.
her trial Sabrina wished, that her father would care for her baby, even
though she once stated that he had assaulted her mother and threatened
to kill her.
Schoor's fiancé, Eunice de
Kock (38), a lawyer from Cape Town (ZA) will
be his fifth wife.
Schoor held a media briefing immediately after his release and expressed
his happiness, to rejoin society, public should not judge him by his
past but by his future. Asked by a journalist about his victims, van
Schoor stated: “To the families and friends of my victims, I apologise
if my action caused any hurt and discomfort.”
November 6, 2004
dubbed South Africa's worst serial murderer strides into the Wimpy on
down-at-heel East London's grandly named Esplanade.
tanned, fit-looking middle-aged man is flanked by a teenage daughter on
of this man with piercing green-grey eyes and a distinctive long beard
can be found alongside Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy on international
lists of serial killers.
done my time'. He is Louis van Schoor - the former
policeman-turned-security guard who is alleged to have killed 39 people
and is alleged to have shot as many as 100.
He is now
out of prison on parole after serving 12 years, four months and 13 days
of his 91-year sentence that effectively translated into a 20-year
Schoor orders soft drinks for his daughters who lean against and look
lovingly at their dad while he gazes intently round the restaurant
before beginning to talk about the past, how prison has left him born
again, a "changed man", and his dreams for the future - a future that
includes a fifth marriage and a farm.
fiancée, Eunice de Kock, is a lawyer in Cape Town who struck up a
correspondence with Van Schoor after reading about him four years ago.
turned to phone calls and then a visit on his birthday. Love blossomed
and the two became engaged.
spoke to De Kock after her fiance's release, she was bubbling with
happiness to be with the man she calls "bokkie" and "engel" and for whom
she plans to give up law to go farming in Namaqualand.
being concerned at being in love with a mass murderer, De Kock seems to
have a soft spot for such killers; she also admires the apartheid killer
Eugene de Kock, who is serving 112 years in Pretoria Central Prison.
marriage are consigned to the future, however, because her beloved is
for the moment confined to the magisterial district of East London. He
is not allowed to discuss either his trial or experiences in East
London's Fort Galmorgan prison where he was apparently a model prisoner.
Schoor plans to write a book about his life, a narrative that he says
will "set the record straight" and make it clear that he is neither a
mass murderer nor a serial killer but instead a "crime fighter".
Schoor's protracted shooting spree took place at a time of intense
racial polarisation in the late 1980s - that time of states of
emergency, mass revolt, white repression and fear.
African history, according to Van Schoor - who at one point planned to
apply for amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission - has
much to do with his killings, although he denies they were racially
Schoor says he was very much a product of his society and experiences,
which included special training in the police and stints on the then
denies that his killings were motivated by blood-lust or racism. He says
he was merely doing his job as he thought right at the time, a time when
the law allowed one to shoot a fleeing suspect in "self-defence". He
refers to these killings as "incidents".
nothing to do with race. I was purely protecting people's property," Van
Schoor's modus operandi was to respond to silent alarms at business
premises and shoot intruders with his 9mm pistol - as many as eight or
10 times, according to court testimony.
then phone the police to come to the scene, and if the victim survived,
he would be arrested. If dead, the killing would occasion only an
way of South African society at the time, these "intruders" were black,
the judicial authorities white - a racial divide that goes a long way to
explain how a security guard could get to shoot so many people without
raising a judicial eyebrow.
Schoor's shooting career eventually and belatedly came to public
attention, lurid accounts emerged of a huge, bearded figure prowling
dark buildings and firing repeatedly at cowering suspects who were often
unarmed and sometimes shot in the back as they fled.
Van Schoor was brought to trial in the dying days of apartheid, he had
more than a little support in his home town. Cars sported I love Louis
stickers illustrated with a black heart pierced by bullets.
Van Schoor winces at the mention of these stickers and the racial
polarisation they expressed. He says he has no time for racists and his
prison experience has made him the more adamant that racial difference
is irrelevant and that people are people.
still quibble over whether Van Schoor should be classified as a mass
murderer or a serial killer. The killer himself rejects both these
very far from the truth. I was a crime fighter," he repeatedly asserts.
Schoor says the security company he owned at the time was responsible
for policing seven out of 10 businesses in East London and it was his
job to deter intruders.
you get to shoot one person, let alone dozens?.."I can't say it is easy,
but I suppose the time I spent in the police made me used to shooting
and killing," he replies.
the stranger aspects of the Van Schoor tale, which unfolded when the
country began taking its first steps towards negotiations and the demise
of apartheid, was his role in confiding in journalists about his
ever-rising death toll.
Schoor is doing his best now to duck media attention. But in talking, it
becomes clear how he disclosed details of his shooting toll to
articulate and frank. Despite carefully considering his answers, he does
duck dealing with painful questions about the past while his daughters
look on with the self-same grey-green eyes.
many people did he really shoot?.."I don't remember. I don't really
know" is the chilling reply.
face does he remember from the darkness at those after-hours premises?
Which victim stands out?
is the answer.
remember faces. I remember some events, sequences of things," Van Schoor
because of the rehabilitation and progress I felt on my side, and in the
light of so much bad publicity and so on, I made an effort to contact
the victims, their families. We couldn't do it.
went to the media and made a public apology, rightly or wrongly. I
apologised for the pain, suffering my actions caused them. I meant this
sincerely. There was huge public response, but to this day I've had no
contact with them (families/victims)."
also no idea of the whereabouts and no desire to meet his bete noire, a
young journalist who was working at the local paper at the time.
solved murder story has a detective hero; in this case it was journalist
Patrick Goodenough, who investigated rumours about Van Schoor after
initially regarding them as too outlandish to be true.
Goodenough and a colleague, Dominic Jones, gradually gathered from
inquest files, court records, interviews with survivors and chats with
the good burghers of East London was a chilling dossier of carnage.
Goodenough battled to get the story into print in the face of timid and
disbelieving editors. Eventually the story of East London's
fast-off-the-mark security guard made it to the front page of the Sunday
white justice system viewed as no more than an efficient security guard,
the wider world saw very differently. The publicity led to more people
coming forward, with more chilling accounts, mainly to the Black Sash,
an anti-apartheid human rights advocacy organisation. ..It was claimed
that Van Schoor dragged victims into deserted premises and then shot
did that. Never," the paroled killer says.
end, Van Schoor was charged with 19 cases of murder and 21 of attempted
murder. He was convicted of seven murders and two attempted murders.
was changed to prevent similar shootings by security personnel.
Schoor went to jail, it was around the time Chris Hani was assassinated
and the country was teetering on the edge of an uncertain future.
Schoor has come out of jail 10 years into democracy.
are no words to describe how it feels to be free, but I am still waiting
to enjoy fully the fruits of democracy," he said.
outing as a free man was to lunch with his elderly mother and relatives,
but Van Schoor says he is lying low partly because of public attention.
Interestingly there has been virtually no reaction from the black
silence is significant. Van Schoor's victims were black, poor and in
many cases itinerant. Who knows whether the relatives of the dead and
the survivors know this figure of their nightmares is free.
stares from other tables at the Wimpy it is a different matter for white
East Londoners. But Van Schoor does not want to run away because of his
done my time. I ask people not to judge me on the past, but the future,"
Van Schoor said.
Schoor might be free, but Fort Glamorgan is not entirely gone from his
Van Schoor's last acts before leaving prison was to bid farewell to
another daughter, Sabrina, serving a 25-year sentence for hiring a
killer to murder her mother, Beverley.
trial was something of a cause celebre in the Eastern Cape, not least
because her defence was that her mother kept her a prisoner to prevent
her mixing with coloured and black friends.
astonished people by declaring that she wanted her father to look after
her mixed race child, who is in the custody of the state and said to be
happy in a foster home.
half-brothers have rejected the child, but Van Schoor says the colour of
his grandchild makes no difference. He hopes to get to know the little
girl but he will not be making a bid to take her away from her foster
stay where she is happy and secure," Van Schoor said.
words before leaving the restaurant are: "I'm not a serial killer. I called
the police after each encounter."
Apartheid killer finds religion but not remorse
Case of freed racist murderer highlights refusal of whites to take
responsibility for the past
By Rory Carroll - The Guardian
Friday, August 4, 2006
South Africa's most prolific
mass murderer takes another sip of coffee, eases back in his chair and
pauses when asked if it is true he shot more than 100 black people. "I
can't argue with that," says Louis van Schoor. "I never kept count."
Seated at a restaurant terrace in East London, a
seaside town in the Eastern Cape, the former security guard is a picture
of relaxed confidence, soaking up sunshine while reminiscing about his
days as an apartheid folk hero.
Hired to protect white-owned businesses in the 1980s,
he is thought to have shot 101 people, killing 39, in a three-year spree.
Some were burglars; others were passers-by dragged in from the street.
All were black or coloured, the term for those of mixed race.
Convicted of murder but released from jail after 12
years, Van Schoor is unrepentant. "I was doing my job - I was paid to
protect property. I never apologised for what I did."
He is not the only one. The whites in East London who
turned a blind eye to his killing spree have not apologised and whites
in general, according to black clerics and politicians, have not owned
up to apartheid-era atrocities.
That reluctance to atone has been laid bare in a book
published last week, The Colour of Murder, by Heidi Holland, which
investigates the bloodsoaked trail not only of Van Schoor but also his
daughter, Sabrina, who hired a hitman to murder her mother.
The macabre tale is likely to reignite debate about
those whites who shun the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission and mock rainbow nation rhetoric. "The story is of a family
but it is also the story of a divided country and of the people of that
country trying to find new ways to live with each other," says Ms
Since his release two years ago, after benefiting
from a sentence reduction for all convicts issued by Nelson Mandela when
he was president, Van Schoor, 55, has slimmed down, shaved off his beard
and kept a low profile, working as a cattle farm foreman outside East
During his 1992 trial white residents displayed "I
Love Louis" stickers decorated with three bullet holes through a
bleeding heart. Sympathy endures, says Van Schoor. "The reaction is 90%
positive. Strangers say, 'Hey, it's good to see you.'"
Magistrates and the police, grateful for the terror
instilled in black people, covered his tracks until local journalists
and human rights campaigners exposed the carnage as apartheid crumbled.
Van Schoor was convicted of seven murders and two attempted murders.
Upon his release in 2004, Van Schoor said he had
found God and, when prompted, expressed sorrow to his victims' relatives.
"I apologise if any of my actions caused them hurt."
In an interview this week, he tried to clarify his
position. "I never apologised for what I did. I apologised for any hurt
or pain that I caused through my actions during the course of my work."
Thanks to his changed appearance and low profile he
has faced no backlash. Few black people recognise him, including the
bookseller who took his order for The Colour of Murder. When Van Schoor
gave his name the penny dropped. "She nearly fell off her chair," he
Married four times and now engaged to a local woman,
Van Schoor, speaking softly and warily, says he is "happy and content".
But he does not seem to approve of the new South Africa. "Everything has
changed - people's attitudes, the service in shops, it's not the same."
On the contrary, lament black leaders, one crucial
thing has stayed the same: the refusal of many whites to admit past sins.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel peace laureate, recently said the
privileged minority that once feared retribution had not shown enough
gratitude for peaceful inclusion in a multi-racial democracy. Nkosinathi
Biko, the son of the murdered anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, noted
the dearth of white voices during last month's commemorations of the
June 1976 Soweto uprising, when police slaughtered black schoolchildren.
A liberal white commentator, Max du Preez, called the silence
Nowhere is it more deafening than East London. Van
Schoor's rampage was made possible by a white establishment that made no
outcry as his victims piled up, many of them impoverished children such
as Liefie Peters, 13, gunned down while hiding in the toilet of a Wimpy
restaurant after breaking in to steal cash.
This week, eating a burger yards from where Van
Schoor cornered his prey, Jacques Durandt, a 33-year-old white former
member of the security forces, defended the killer. "I won't say he's a
murderer. For him it was a job."
Wannitta Kindness, a 36-year-old white taxi driver
parked outside the restaurant, says the security guard might have fired
even if the intruder was white. "But you don't find white people
breaking into places."
Others echoed the refrain: denied jobs reserved for
black people, targeted by criminals, harassed in the street, victims in
South Africa these days have pale skin and they see no reason to
apologise. "The blacks don't want equality," says Ms Kindness. "They
want to be on top."
East London does boast at least one white advocate of
racial harmony: Van Schoor's daughter, Sabrina, 25. While her father was
in jail she shocked the white community by dating black men and giving
birth to a mixed-race child.
In 2002, in a grisly irony, she hired a black man to
slit her mother's throat, claiming she was a racist bully.
Convicted of murder and sent to the same prison as
her father, Sabrina van Schoor is seen as a martyr by some black people.
She seems popular among fellow inmates at Fort Glamorgan jail. "That
girl, she's not like the whites outside of here. She's OK," says one
Speaking through iron bars, Sabrina van Schoor,
powerfully built like her father, says she is nervous about her family
history coming under public scrutiny again because of the book. "I'm
afraid it might open old wounds."
Blame game goes on in a society dogged by murder
Each time someone is murdered in South Africa - which
happens about 50 times more often than it does in Europe - 2010 flashes
through the minds of football administrators and politicians. That year,
when the country stages the World Cup, has become as much of a test of
South Africa's ability to rule itself as the 1994 election which
introduced majority rule.
While most World Cup hosts get nervous at some stage
of preparations, about the capacity of stadiums or transport systems, in
South Africa the worry is murder. Just as violence threatened to derail
the peace train heading for majority rule 12 years ago, so there are
fears that it is about to humiliate the country.
One of the most puzzling aspects is that the violence,
long associated with tensions arising from racial divisions, has failed
to disappear with apartheid. The statistics are unreliable; the police
and government do not like releasing them because of their impact on
tourism. But it is believed that the only country to rival South Africa
in the crime stakes over recent years has been Colombia. The issue is
intrinsic to life in South Africa.
Blame tends to be coloured by political perspective.
The government blames illegal immigrants and organised crime. Farmers
who see neighbours killed on lonely homesteads blame the ANC, which they
claim is after their land. The rich blame the poor and, of course,
whites blame black people. Crime replaces the weather in small talk -
until an incident of particular savagery, such as the recent case of a
white farmer who threw a black farmworker into a lions' cage, to be
The South African author André Brink fell victim to
crime when gunmen raided a country restaurant where he was having dinner
with his family, assaulted them and locked them in a storeroom. He said
he received a flood of letters in response to an article he wrote about
"Each one of them has encountered, either personally
or through family and close friends, examples of the violence which has
come not only to cloud all the laudable achievements of our young
democracy but to threaten the very likelihood of success for this
democracy," Brink said.
Louis Van Schoor free.