Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland expat haunted by wife’s slaying in South Africa

By Jana Boshoff

A Northern Ireland man who saw his wife tortured, shot and dumped in a ditch after a raid at their remote South African farm says he suffers daily flashbacks of the horrific night.

Susan Howarth (64) was killed by masked men who robbed the property in Dullstroom in Mpumalanga province earlier this year.

Her Belfast-born husband Robert Lynn survived despite hours of torture and having a bullet lodged in his neck.

Months later, all Mr Lynn has left of his wife is her ashes in a neat wooden box and the flashbacks of what happened.

The 66-year-old says he is haunted by the unnerving silence, mixed with flashbacks and panic each time he hears something suspicious.

The widower was speaking during a protest in South Africa dubbed #BlackMonday.

Mostly white farmers donned black clothing and gathered on motorways and roads in a procession of tractors and trucks, to protest against what they described as a weak state response to "farm murders".

The killing of Ms Howarth, originally from Hampshire, was highlighted when farmers, mostly clad in black, staged a protest at her farm entrance. Among the crowd was her grieving widower.

He stood upright, holding the hands of fellow protesters, his facial expression unmoved by the emotional crowd.

"I am angry. I am so very angry," he said afterwards.

Ms Howarth was murdered on the farm on February 19 when an armed gang broke into the pensioners' isolated property, around 150 miles east of Johannesburg.

The couple were tortured for hours before being bundled into a pick-up truck and driven to a mountain pass. Ms Howarth was shot twice in the head and Mr Lynn, a former electrical engineer, suffered one shot in the neck.

The bullet is still lodged there after doctors deemed it too dangerous to remove.

But worst of all, he had to listen to his wife dying in the dark, unable to help her.

Police later said she was unrecognisable as a result of her injuries.

Mr Lynn added: "What gets me the most is the audacity of it all. To come into someone's house and shoot without saying anything. I thought it was the other way around, you first ask and then shoot."

Three men have been arrested in connection with the attack.

Since their arrest, the murder file was destroyed in a suspicious fire when the Dullstroom detective unit was torched to the ground. As a result, the report had to be recompiled.

Mr Lynn, together with his neighbour and late wife's best friend Claire Taylor, have been following the court case since the first appearance of the three suspects.

When there were rumours of them being released on bail, Mr Lynn's loved ones feared that they might come back for him.

The case is expected to be transferred to the Criminal High Court in Nelspruit for trial.

Worried about the investigation and with little information at his disposal, Mr Lynn has been in contact with the British Consulate to help him get answers.

Clinging to the box containing his wife's ashes, he repeats: "I am angry, I am very angry.

"They say it might take years before I will be able to let go of this anger. My wife wasn't murdered, she was executed."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph