Lehann Sergison, 49, spent six years trying to arrest the man who killed her aunt. Without waiting for help from either the authorities or the police, she decided to seduce the suspect and find out his address, says Lenta.ru.
Lehann Sergison was dating a friend at a pizzeria when her cell phone rang. It was the first time she saw this number, but learned the country code: South Africa. Lehann thought that only her aunt, 59-year-old Christine Robinson, who had a small hotel two hours from the large South African city of Johannesburg, could call from there.
In her youth, Robinson worked as an English teacher and traveled all over the world - teaching children in Russia, Germany, China and the Middle East. In Kuwait, fate brought her to her future husband, who also came to this country for work. He turned out to be as much an adventurer as she was. Together, they moved to South Africa and opened their own safari lodge on the edge of Marakele National Park. There was no end to the guests who wanted to see lions, elephants and rhinos with their own eyes.
After the death of her husband (from cancer), the woman began to think about returning to the UK. But she could not take and leave her hotel, so the move was postponed for the second year.
When Lehann answered the phone, it was not her aunt who was on the other end, but her hotel manager. He reported that Christine Robinson had been killed. “The waiter passed me the pizza, and I dropped it on the floor,” Lehann recalls.
Death of Christine Robinson
She died on the evening of July 30, 2014, but the hotel staff found her body only the next morning when they came to work. The killer wrapped him in a blanket and left him in a pool of blood in the middle of the bedroom.
Judging by the overturned furniture, the woman resisted. From the abrasions and cuts on the body, the police concluded that the attacker had severely beaten and possibly raped his victim. After that, he stabbed her several times and left her for dead. Most likely, the cause of death was a wound on the neck.
Before leaving, the killer took some of the money Robinson had withdrawn from the bank the day before. Several thousand pounds sterling was earmarked for salary payments.
The main suspect immediately became one of the hotel employees - 24-year-old gardener Andrew Ndlovu.
He worked for Robinson for over ten years and suddenly disappeared after her death. According to the CCTV footage, at six o'clock in the morning, the former gardener got into his friend's car, left and never returned.
To the surprise of the police, Ndlovu answered the phone and said that he decided to return to his homeland - in Zimbabwe. This country borders South Africa in the north and is located relatively close to the Marakele Park, where the murder took place - just over 350 kilometers. The former gardener insisted that he was innocent and promised to come to a meeting with the investigators. The next day he was expected at the border, but he never showed up.
The police suspected that, once in Zimbabwe, Ndlovu immediately changed his name. “We only pray that we can find someone who knows his new identity,” Police Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi told reporters. "Then we can find him and bring him to justice." Another investigator, Lieutenant Colonel Ronel Otto, added that there could be several killers.
The search for the offender
Lehann couldn't believe the police had missed the killer. “They should have contacted the border guards and told them to stop him,” she said indignantly. Health problems did not allow her to go to South Africa personally, but the brother of the murdered John McCarthy flew there. Colonel Sacchi Lawrence, who led the investigation, met with him several times and answered all questions, but the matter did not go further.
“For the South African police, this is just another murder, and they are already overwhelmed with them,” McCarthy said in 2015. - Now the case has been transferred to Interpol in Zimbabwe. It is hoped that they will take care of the arrest and extradition. " The problem was that Ndlovu hadn't been in touch for a year. Anything could have happened during this time. If he has already left Zimbabwe, hopes for Interpol will be in vain.
The investigator hinted that the South African police would benefit from British help, or at least funding.
Lehann tried to reach out to a member of parliament for her constituency, but he only sent her to the Foreign Office - the British Foreign Office. She turned there too, but achieved nothing but excuses.
In September 2014, Lehann personally delivered hundreds of letters from relatives and friends of the murdered woman to the government residence on Downing Street. In response, she was handed a note from the prime minister, which promised "the necessary representation in order for justice to be done." Despite this, the matter did not get off the ground.
Instead of the authorities, Lehann helped the Murdered Abroad charity, which brings together the relatives of people killed abroad. She was also contacted by the South African organization AfriForum, which represents the interests of the descendants of the white colonialists. Many of its members do not hide their nostalgia for the apartheid era, when blacks were limited in their rights.
AfriForum spokesman Ian Cameron visited the scene in early August 2014 and then called Lehann every year on the anniversary of the murder. At his suggestion, she sent a petition to the British authorities with the names of the white South Africans killed on their farms.
The latest reports about Ndlovu appeared in the South African press in May 2019. By then Colonel Lawrence, whom Brother Robinson had met, had resigned. The new investigator did not rule out that over the past years the suspect managed to return to South Africa, and urged him to confess.
“The most annoying thing is that we know who killed her, but no one is doing anything,” Lehann complained. Brother Robinson had less confidence in Ndlovu's guilt. In his opinion, the gardener was chosen as the scapegoat only because he left immediately after the murder. But that could very well have been a coincidence. “I think there are many details that contradict the fact that he was the killer,” he admitted. - However, who are we to judge such things. Final conclusions can only be drawn after they have caught him and taken a DNA test. Then everything will become clear one way or another ”.
After the death of her aunt, Lehann vowed that she would achieve the truth, no matter what it cost her. “The dead cannot cry out for justice; the duty of the living is to pursue it for their sake, ”she quotes the writer Lois McMaster Bujold. - I believe in these words. It seemed to me that I had to do everything for justice to prevail ”.
“My family thought I was going crazy, but I just couldn't give up. The pain caused by her murder did not go away, ”recalls the deceased's niece.
In 2018, the ex-manager of her aunt's hotel contacted her and said that the former gardener had returned to South Africa and reappeared on Facebook. Lehann checked and found that Ndlovu did have pages on social media and on dating sites where he posted selfies and quotes from the Bible. She began to sort out and found several more accounts that he kept while he was on the run. The names were different, but the friends and photos were the same.
Lehann wrote to the dating site administration asking for help from the police in finding Ndlovu, but she was not even answered. Then the British realized that she would have to catch the killer on her own.
She set up a fake Facebook account belonging to the fictional South African flight attendant Missy Falcao. She borrowed her first and last name from her dogs - a pair of greyhounds named Slow Missy and Phoenix Falcao. Lehann thought about the character's biography: 28 years old, born in Ghana, lives near the airport in Johannesburg. The avatar is a cute black girl.
Missy Falcao had many acquaintances with whom she chatted on Facebook. At first, non-existent people like herself prevailed among them, but gradually Ndlov's Facebook acquaintances began to appear on the list of friends. On behalf of Missy Lehann, she entered into conversations with them, praised their photos and congratulated them on the holidays. There was nothing to suggest that the account of the South African flight attendant was actually run by a 47-year-old woman from the UK.
Six months later, Lehann decided it was time to contact Ndlov directly. She wrote him a private message - and he answered.
“It was unbearable,” the Briton admits. “The friendly conversations and flirting with the man who killed Aunt Christine disgusted me. But I adored her and did not want the murder to go unpunished. "
In two months, they exchanged hundreds of messages. To make the correspondence more believable, Lehann monitored the weather in Johannesburg and the events taking place in the city. Ndlovu did not suspect anything and one fine day he offered to call. The woman had to come up with excuses. Then he wanted to meet her in person.
“I got goosebumps,” she recalls. - It felt like I was betraying Christine. But this was a chance to catch him. "
Lehann studied a map of Johannesburg and suggested a place and time for a date, and then told police officers in South Africa about it. At first she was promised that Ndlovu would wait and detain, but at the last moment the operation fell through. The woman had to postpone the meeting several times at the request of the police. "Ndlovu thought I was cheating on him!" - she says.
When the ambush was finally organized, the suspect did not come. He no longer responded to Missy's messages, and the police said that his cell phone had also disappeared from the network.
“I decided it was the end, we lost,” Lehann admits. But in February 2020, Ndlovu posted a new selfie on Facebook. From the buildings behind him, he still lived in Johannesburg. Lehann forwarded the photo to the South African police and the Foreign Office and waited for the continuation.
“Several months passed, I was lying in bed on the sixth anniversary of Christy’s death and suddenly I thought:“ To hell. What have I got to lose? ”” - Lehann recalls.
“Six years ago, this man raped and killed my aunt Christine Robinson. He still enjoys living free after taking her life away from her, ”she wrote on Facebook and attached a photo to Ndlov.
Ian Cameron, who had left AfriForum by then, repost. The snapshot instantly spread among Facebook users in South Africa. A few hours later, he received a comment from an unknown woman who recognized the person with the photo.
“I called her and she said that Ndlovu had been working for her father in Johannesburg for four years. I sent him the photos, and he confirmed that Ndlovu was indeed his employee, ”says Ian Cameron, ex-AfriForum representative.
The former employer had the suspect's home address. After receiving it, Cameron went to the retired Colonel Lawrence, who was once involved in the investigation into the murder of Robinson. With his help, Ndlova was arrested the same evening.
Cameron was present at the arrest and saw Ndlova.
“He was eerily calm,” Ian says. - I looked somewhere into the distance - that's all. After the arrest, the detainee was transported to the city of Tkhabazimbi, located not far from the murder site. He still claims to be innocent and believes he was framed. The trial will begin in October.
“It's a bitter joy to be arrested,” says Lehann. - I never considered myself a detective, but I could not give up for Christine. I know that if something happened to me, she would do the same. "