A NELSON Mandela Bay domestic worker was brutally hacked to death with a panga during a botched robbery at her employer’s home in Tobias Street, Broadwood, yesterday.
Sonia Mabedla, 42, died on the way to Livingstone Hospital after the attack, allegedly by a gardener who had worked for the Hayward family for several years until about two years ago.
A 50-year-old suspect was arrested about 800m from the house, his clothing covered in blood.
It is thought that Mabedla’s attacker first went to a neighbouring house where he asked for money before trying to force his way in.
When this failed, he jumped over the boundary wall into the Haywards’ yard where he confronted Mabedla, who had been alone at the house at the time.
Her shocked employer, Wilbur Hayward, who had been in Somerset West on business, arrived home yesterday afternoon after being notified about the attack.
"I am really shocked. This was a brutal attack. I just can’t believe it. She has been with us for more than two years and was such a nice woman and loved by everyone.
"She was very security conscious, so I am not sure how this could have happened,” Hayward said.
The first person on the scene, an Atlas armed response officer who had been sitting in his vehicle about 200m away, was alerted to the attack by a passer-by.
"One of the residents came running to the car, saying that someone in the house was screaming,” the security officer, Vincent Schutte, said.
"I immediately called for backup and drove there. I climbed over the wall and went around to the back where I found her [Mabedla] lying on the ground. I took her pulse and attempted to stabilise her.
"The next thing, I heard noises coming from inside. As I entered the house, I saw the suspect running out the back door and climbing over the wall.”
The police and ambulance had arrived by then.
"We attempted to chase the suspect, but he fled over the wall and through numerous yards,” Schutte said.
Police found traces of blood on the boundary walls of at least three houses.
The man was arrested further down the street by officers in a passing police vehicle.
Atlas operations manager Monty Montgomery said it appeared the attacker had jumped over the back wall of the Haywards’ house into their yard and then confronted Mabedla.
"There was a struggle and she was hit several times with the panga. She suffered numerous lacerations on her arms from blocking the blade,” he said.
"Some of the bags inside the house were packed, but it appears nothing was missing.”
Mabedla is from Cofimvaba near Queenstown and police were still trying to track down her family last night.
Gardmed ambulance owner Dave Gardner said Mabedla had been semi-conscious when they arrived.
She had numerous lacerations, a fractured skull and had suffered a severe loss of blood.
Police spokeswoman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said shortly before Mabedla’s murder a man matching the suspect’s description had tried to force his way into a neighbouring house.
"He had asked for money. When she [the domestic worker] refused to give him anything, he attempted to force his way into the house. She managed to lock the door and alerted the home owner.”
According to Janse van Rensburg, when the suspect was arrested by police in Tobias Street he was wearing blood- stained clothing and carrying a bag containing a panga.
The man is due to appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on charges of murder and attempted robbery tomorrow.