Son’s fiery death not suicide, says dad

Bianca Oelofse and Craig Lee.

GRIEVING British father Steve Lee will leave SA in five days – with a heavy heart and without his son’s ashes.

Craig Lee, 20, was found dead in his burnt-out car in the driveway of the home of his girlfriend’s parents a month ago.

Lee, 56, has spent the past month piecing together events leading to his son’s death in the southern Cape.

Lee, who works for a logistics company in Nigeria, said his family received a call about Craig’s death at their UK home in the early hours of November 6.

They were told there had been a fire.

“My wife Debbie, daughter Candice and I flew to Durban the next day and then … went down to George,” he said.

Police initially said Craig had set himself on fire after a heated row with his girlfriend Bianca Oelofse, 20.

Said Lee: “The investigating officer told us that Bianca and Craig had an argument on the night that he died and that he had hit her. She left to go to her parents’ house.”

When he visited Craig’s flat in Hoekwil, near George, Lee found a door lock had been broken, the bed had been stripped, all the towels were missing and there were bloodstains in the bedroom and passage.

The remains of the car in which Lee's body was found

Craig, who attended Westville Boys’ High School in Durban on a rugby scholarship, recently received a R430000 payout from the Road Accident Fund after he was involved in a motorcycle accident.

The family had lived in Westville for years before returning to the UK about 18 months ago. Craig had planned to study overseas but returned to George in July to be with Bianca, who he had dated for two years.

“I’m utterly disappointed with the way the police initially investigated my son’s death,” said Lee, who lives near Oxford.

“A police forensics team only inspected Craig’s flat three days after his death – and only after I went to the [George] station commander and made a big stink,” Lee said.

“Besides samples of the bloodstains found on the bottom of his mattress, the headboard of the bed and the walls of the flat, the [forensic] team also located a piece of a broken walking stick in a very unusual location.

“Shattered glass was also found in his driveway, but my son supposedly killed himself in the driveway of his girlfriend’s parents’ house in Kleinkrantz, 25km away.”

This, coupled with the fact that Craig was not suffering from depression and did not show signs of being suicidal, led him to doubt that his son killed himself.

Bianca’s father, Adrian Oelofse, said on Friday his daughter was too traumatised to speak about the incident.

“Bianca is still very upset,” he said, adding that he could not comment on Lee’s concerns because there was an ongoing police investigation.

Police spokesman Captain Malcolm Potjie said:

“The investigating officer has indicated that at this stage, no foul play is suspected.”

He said a murder probe could be launched “if more information comes to light or if the forensic reports indicate such”.

“We are in communication with the deceased’s father. There are allegations that are being investigated,” Potjie said.

Police told Lee that Bianca’s family heard a “whoosh” outside their home at 11pm and found a car in flames with Craig inside.

“A petrol can was found on the back seat,” said Lee.

“[Craig] bought his dream car, the Renault Mégane, and enrolled at Intec College for an IT course.

“He was definitely not thinking about killing himself.”

Craig’s wallet is missing and his bank accounts are being monitored.

His ashes will be scattered in South Africa.

Craig’s landlord, Daniel Janse van Rensburg, said Bianca’s parents told him Craig had been in an accident when they came to fetch her belongings.

“Family members came around about three times to clean up and take things away.

” I felt uncomfortable because I felt Craig’s own family should have had the right to go through his belongings first.”

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