Matthew, seen with wife Karen, has been the target of unsubstantianted rumour and innuendo in the aftermath of her murder. Picture: Facebook
Matthew, seen with wife Karen, has been the target of unsubstantianted rumour and innuendo in the aftermath of her murder. Picture: Facebook

Focus turns to luxury resort after murder

There has been another dramatic twist in the case of a pregnant mum slain in a frenzied attack at an exclusive South African getaway last week.

Primary schoolteacher Karen Turner and her farmer husband Matthew, from Underberg in South Africa, were each stabbed multiple times as they slept in a chalet at Hluleka Nature Reserve on the Wild Coast in the country's Eastern Cape province.

Ms Turner, 31, who was three months pregnant, died along with her unborn child while Mr Turner, 33, was critically wounded but expected to pull through after emergency surgery.

Their 23-month-old son Hayden was present during the attack but left physically unharmed and is being cared for by Ms Turner's brother Ian Crouch.

On Friday, Mr Crouch made the shock claim he overheard a manager advising staff at the resort to frame the tragedy as a "domestic dispute", casting his brother-in-law as a killer instead of a victim.

Now the families have hired a private investigator to delve into the resort in the hope of finding potential leads.

Mr Crouch said he could not elaborate on what the private eye had found.

"He (the private investigator) has a full team on the ground," he told News24's The Witness.

"This morning he said they were on to some good information but he didn't divulge more."

 

Matthew and Karen Turner wed in 2017. Friends have described him as a ‘gentle giant’ who would never hurt his wife. Picture: Facebook
Matthew and Karen Turner wed in 2017. Friends have described him as a ‘gentle giant’ who would never hurt his wife. Picture: Facebook

 

A police sniffer dog handler searches for clues near the chalet where Karen Turner was stabbed to death and her husband Matthew critically wounded. Picture: Supplied
A police sniffer dog handler searches for clues near the chalet where Karen Turner was stabbed to death and her husband Matthew critically wounded. Picture: Supplied

Mr Turner told police he woke in the early hours of Tuesday morning to find a man stabbing him in the stomach and a second stabbing his wife as they slept in the upper level of the two-storey chalet.

He managed to push his assailant off before chasing both intruders away and opening the door to friends holidaying in the adjacent chalet who knocked after hearing "a commotion".

Police said nothing was stolen and there was no sign of forced entry but the victims' families say the couple had left open the windows because it had been a hot night.

Cryptic comments by police and an alleged memo sent to resort staff by the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) have sparked sinister theories.

Many revolve around Mr Turner, who has been the target of online speculation he fabricated the story about two male intruders. Mr Crouch has dismissed the rumours as lies.

A single sentence from Eastern Cape police spokeswoman Captain Dineo Koena only served to fan the flames of conspiracy.

"He (Mr Turner) is the only person who will lead us to who did this", she told reporters in the aftermath of the murder.

 

Karen and Matthew with baby Hayden, who witnessed the attack but was not physically harmed. Picture: Facebook
Karen and Matthew with baby Hayden, who witnessed the attack but was not physically harmed. Picture: Facebook

 

Mr Crouch, who made a mercy dash to Hluleka in a helicopter immediately after learning of the attack, claims he arrived at the crime scene before police and found the chalet windows open and the door unlocked.

When he sought out a manager to speak to at the office, he "saw the staff from the resort all gathered together".

"A woman was talking and said she had been told by 'Vuyani' to say there was no staff at the resort after 11pm and no staff before 7am," Mr Crouch told The Witness.

"She said she had been told there was a party at the chalet and there had been a domestic dispute."

He said he later found out the woman had been reading from a memo sent by ECPTA chief Vuyani Dayimani.

ECPTA has strenuously denied the allegations and says it is working with police to resolve the matter.

"Vuyani Dayimani has confirmed that he did not give instructions to staff to hinder an ongoing investigation of such serious magnitude," agency spokeswoman Oyanga Ngalika said in a statement on Saturday.

"He continues to encourage reserve staff to give support to the police during this ongoing investigation."

 

The Hluleka Nature Reserve on South Africa’s Wild Coast is a popular tourist attraction. Picture: TripAdvisor
The Hluleka Nature Reserve on South Africa’s Wild Coast is a popular tourist attraction. Picture: TripAdvisor

 

Matthew Turner, seen with his wife Karen, has been the target of unsubstantiated rumour and innuendo in the aftermath of her murder. Picture: Facebook
Matthew Turner, seen with his wife Karen, has been the target of unsubstantiated rumour and innuendo in the aftermath of her murder. Picture: Facebook

 

 

However, Mr Crouch said the family did not accept ECPTA's version of events and remained furious about Mr Dayimani's alleged insinuation that Mr Turner was responsible for his wife's murder.

"He did that to protect the reputation of the resort," Mr Crouch told The Sunday Tribune.

"Matthew is not that kind of person at all. Imagine the damage it will do in the future? Imagine if his son grows up and finds out that there was an allegation against his dad?"

Mr Crouch vowed to take legal action against Mr Dayimani and the resort unless the comments (which the tourism chief denies making) were retracted and an apology issued.

The resort has also denied reports its office was broken into and ransacked on the night of Ms Turner's murder - an event Mr Crouch flagged as possibly linked to his sister's death.

But police say they accept the explanation given by Hluleka staff, who say neighbours broke into the office to call for help in the chaos that followed the attack.

Captain Koena confirmed police were not investigating a break in at the office.

Meanwhile, Mr Turner's condition has been upgraded to stable following surgery which included the removal of part of his small intestine.

Mr Crouch said his brother-in-law was not coping emotionally.

"He has not come to terms with what happened," he told The Tribune. "He is battling and very teary."

Ms Turner's funeral will be held this Friday.

Meanwhile the ECPTA said it was working with the private sector including the Wild Coast Holiday Association to ensure the safety of visitors.