The prime suspect in the horrific rape and brutal murder of a British safari lodge owner in South Africa – who was dramatically arrested on Thursday last week – had his first court appearance today (Monday 3 August). The man was incredibly arrested on the six year anniversary of the murder, thanks to the unrelenting detective work… by her grieving niece.
Retired teacher Christine Robinson, 59, was allegedly attacked by a trusted gardener at the 125-acre Rra-Ditau lodge she ran alone in South Africa after the death of her husband.
Liverpool-born Christine had drawn out £3,500 to pay staff at the luxury 30-guest lodge 150 miles north of Johannesburg, on the Botswana border, when she was attacked on 30 July, 2014.
Prime suspect Andrew Ndlovu was arrested in Brixton, Johannesburg, last week on suspicion of murdering Christine Robinson six years ago… on the anniversary of her death, 30 July.
Police reports at the time said she had put up a huge struggle against her attacker, who raped her and then tried to strangle her and finally stabbed her to death in her bedroom. Christine’s body was found semi-naked wrapped in a blood-soaked duvet after worried staff broke down the locked door when they could not get a reply from her the next morning. She had defence wounds to her arms and hands, and it was clear from the furniture all over the place she had fought back, but she was repeatedly stabbed and her throat was slit.
Ndlovu, then 24, had vanished and was thought to have slipped back over the border to his native Zimbabwe… but he then later returned to South Africa.
Christine’s niece, chartered surveyor
, from Kent in the UK, became infuriated by the lack of progress by the police team in South Africa and the British Foreign Office.
She delivered a powerful petition to Downing Street in 2014, begging that then Prime Minister David Cameron take action. Despite repeated promises, nothing was done.
The Foreign Office and the South African Police told Lehanne that she would have to wait three years for a formal extradition to take place to bring him back to South Africa from Zimbabwe.
But she had heard he was already back in South Africa, but said nobody would listen or help her. Finally Lehanne, 49, decided if nobody was going to try and bring her aunt’s alleged killer to justice she would do it alone… and so began her own investigation worthy of Agatha Christie.
And on Thursday, six years to the day of the murder, her detective work from 6,000 miles away and refusal to allow her aunt’s killer to escape justice, paid off when he was arrested by police.
How did Lehanne track down her aunt’s killer?
Lehanne first set up a false Facebook identity, posing as a pretty South African air stewardess and befriended friends from the prime suspect’s social media page who were close to him.
In 2019 she discovered he was using a Facebook alibi and traced it and found he was using dating sites, and using her fake identity she told him ‘he was hot’ and over time befriended him. She arranged a date with him in Johannesburg, where he lived, giving detectives a fortnight to prepare a plan, telling him that she was on long-haul and would not be back till then.
Lehanne contacted South African Police to try and set up a sting operation to meet him using a policewoman posing as her, but due to red tape and inaction the opportunity was lost.
Her spooked target went to ground, but she rediscovered him in February this year when he posted a picture of himself on his fake Facebook page on his birthday and she began tracking him again.
But the suspect had become wary of her and would not respond to messages, so last Thursday, on the sixth anniversary of her aunt’s death, Lehanne posted a picture of the alleged killer.
She asked the people of South Africa to look at his Facebook photo and help her find the suspect.
Lehanne said on Facebook: “Six years ago today this man raped and murdered my aunt Christine Robinson. Andrew Ndlovu is still a free man enjoying his life after taking hers.”
She appealed for South Africans to help her try and find him on the sixth anniversary of her aunt’s murder and AfriForum senior executive Ian Cameron saw it and reposted it on his page:
He brutally raped & murdered British national Christine Robinson(59) on farm in Northam,Limpopo,6yrs ago today.Andrew Ndlovu fled to Zim but has since returned to #SouthAfrica several times. @GovernmentZA did little/nothing to arrest this criminal. pic.twitter.com/ok9Xc4zdiL
— Ian Cameron (@IanCameron23) July 30, 2020
Cameron knew the case – he had attended the original murder scene of Lehanne’s aunt. He reposted Lehanne’s appeal on Facebook and Twitter, and incredibly someone came forward who recognised the suspect, and told Cameron where the man worked and, importantly, where he lived.
Cameron contacted the original investigating police officer, who is now retired, Colonel Sakkie Lourens. This time the South African Police along with AfriForum went into action, and within 12 hours of the original Facebook post they had raided the suspect’s house and he was arrested.
He was handcuffed at his home in Brixton, Johannesburg, in the grounds of his employer to be driven back by police to Thabazimbi district, where the crime took place.
Overjoyed Lehanne said: “The Foreign Office were useless and my MP was just a waste of space and I could get no help from the South African Police, so I was on my own.”
She said: “I nearly got him once with a honey trap, but the South African Police could not get their act together and when I got photos of him the Foreign Office warned me not to post on social media.
“I got so frustrated that on the sixth anniversary of my aunt’s murder, I posted one anyway on social media and within 12 hours, thanks to AfriForum, this guy was locked in handcuffs.
“I would like to thank the very brave person who came forward and identified him.
“I was never going to give up on my aunt and I hope she can now rest in peace.”
Christine and her retired RAF mechanic husband, Daniel ‘Robbie’ Robinson, had bought the game park in 2002 and turned it into a thriving business opposite a Big 5 game reserve in Northern Limpopo.
Tragically in 2012 Robbie from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who had two children from a previous marriage, died of cancer but Christine decided to carry on running it alone.
The alleged killer had worked at the game park for two years and was a trusted member of staff, but on the evening of the killing fled his quarters and skipped over the border.
The murder victim taught English in a string of international schools around the world and had met her future husband whilst teaching in Kuwait. They wed in 2005.
The suspect, who is now a construction worker, was arrested in Johannesburg early Thursday evening by a specially put together South African Police team of experienced officers.
The police squad included the original and now retired investigating officer Colonel Sakkie Louwrens – who vowed to bring Christine’s killer to justice.
AfriForum’s Ian Cameron said: “Six years ago I attended the murder scene as part of my job to help raise awareness of what is happening with regard to farm and game lodge attacks.
“It was a very brutal murder and now to be part of the arrest of the prime suspect was very special and I am so pleased for Lehanne and now justice must be seen to play its part.
“When I reposted and retweeted Lehanne’s post, it was shared over 70,000 times and then I got this message out of the blue from someone who knew him and gave his details.
“After that things moved quickly and later that evening the prime suspect was behind bars.”
South African Police confirmed that a 30-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the rape and murder of Christine Robinson, 59, in 2014. He had his first court appearance today, and it is believed he will next appear in court on 13 August.
On Friday Louwrens said: “It has taken six years to the day but the man suspected of murdering Christine Robinson is in custody. He is being taken to the original police station where his DNA and fingerprints will be checked with that found at the scene and I expect the investigation to move along very quickly.
“I am delighted for the family that at last this man is in custody and facing justice.”
Cameron added: “I must commend the police team for their work (on Thursday) night, they were really outstanding.”
One of Christine’s former pupils said: “Such good news to read that this man has finally been caught. What a strong and determined battle fought by a very special niece. I knew Christine as ‘Miss McCarthy’ from the Anglo American School in Moscow in the early 1990’s. She was also my grade 3 teacher and although I was only very young, I have always remembered her fondly – she was my favourite school teacher throughout all of my school years. I hope Christine can now rest peacefully x”
Last week we arrested this man from Zim in Johannesburg, who allegedly raped and murdered British National, Christine Robinson (59), on a farm in Limpopo in July 2014. He had his first court appearance today. #FarmMurders #FarmMurder #SouthAfrica pic.twitter.com/AzuAXIZblh
— Ian Cameron (@IanCameron23) August 3, 2020
To use any of the photos or text, please contact Jamie Pyatt News Ltd.