The prime suspect in the horrific rape and brutal murder of a British safari lodge owner was dramatically arrested yesterday after six years of detective work… by her 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 in July 2014.
Prime suspect Andrew Ndlovu (pictured) was arrested yesterday under suspicion of murdering Christine Robinson six years ago
Retired teacher Mrs Robinson (pictured), 59, was allegedly attacked by a gardener at the 125-acre Rra-Ditau lodge she ran alone in South Africa after the death of her husband
Police reports at the time said she put up a huge struggle for life against her attacker who raped her then tried to strangle her then 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.
The prime suspect Andrew Ndlovu, then 24, had vanished and was thought to have slipped back over the border to his native Zimbabwe and then later returned to South Africa.
Christine’s niece chartered surveyor Lehanne Sergison from Bickley, Kent, became infuriated by the lack of progress by the police team in South Africa or the British Foreign Office.
She delivered a powerful petition to Downing Street in 2014 begging that then Prime Minister David Cameron took 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.
Christine’s niece chartered surveyor Lehanne Sergison (pictured) from Bickley, Kent, delivered a powerful petition to Downing Street in 2014
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 began her own investigation worthy of Agatha Christie.
And yesterday, six years to the day of the murder, her detective work from 6000 miles away and refusal to allow her aunt’s killer to escape justice paid off when he was arrested by police.
Lehanne first set up a false Facebook identity using the prime suspect’s social media page posing as a pretty South African air stewardess and befriended friends 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 told him ‘he was hot’ and over time befriended him.
He was handcuffed at the home he stayed at in Brixton, Johannesburg, in the grounds of his employer and is being driven back by police to Thabazimbi district where the crime happened
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 began tracking him again.
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 began her own investigation worthy of Agatha Christie. She posted this on social media on the sixth anniversary of her aunt’s death
But the prime suspect had become wary of her and would not respond to messages but yesterday 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 murder and AfriForum senior executive Ian Cameron saw it and reposted it on his page.
AfriForum is a pressure group in South Africa representing the minority white population and Mr Cameron had attended the original murder scene of Lehanne’s aunt Christine.
He reposted Lehanne’s appeal on Facebook and Twitter and someone came forward who recognised the suspect and told him where the man worked and importantly where he lived.
Mr Cameron contacted the original investigating police officer, who is now retired, Colonel Sakki Lourens.
The 125 acre Rra-Ditau game lodge in the foothills of the Waterberg Mountain Range near Thabazimbi in Limpopo Province
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 and is being driven back by police to Thabazimbi district where the crime happened.
Overjoyed Lehanne said: ‘The Foreign Office were useless and my MP Bob Neill was just a waste of space and I could get no help from the South African Police so I was on my own.
‘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.
‘This morning I posted on Facebook an appeal to find my aunt’s killer and went to my local garden centre to buy lavender which she loved and the next thing I know we have an arrest.
‘I was never going to give up on my aunt and I hope she can now rest in peace,’ she said.
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
Christine and her retired RAF mechanic husband Daniel ‘Robbie’ Robinson bought the game park in 2002 and turned it into a thriving business opposite a Big 5 game reserve.
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 yesterday evening by a specially put together South African Police team of experienced officers.
The suspect, who is now a construction worker, was arrested in Johannesburg early yesterday evening by a specially put together South African Police team of experienced officers
The police squad included the original investigating officer Colonel Sakkie Louwrens (retired) – 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 and would be interviewed later today.
Original investigating officer retired South African Police Colonel Sakkie 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.’