Police are investigating a brutal murder at the same house in South Africa where Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron lived as a child when her mother shot and killed her father. The current resident of the property in the town of Benoni, about 18 miles from Johannesburg, was tortured and killed Friday by a gang of robbers.
Benoni police spokeswoman Nomsa Sekele said the victim, Barry Newman, was forced into a bathroom where he was tied, gagged, and suffocated after the robbers put a plastic bag over his head. Police believe the robbers burned him with cigarettes and a clothes iron.
The five robbers gained access to the property by pretending to be interested in buying a used car for sale by Newman’s girlfriend. The robbers also tied up the gardener and a domestic worker and forced them into a bedroom. No arrests have been made in the case.
The Benoni house was also a crime scene in June 1991 when Theron’s mother, Gerda Maritz, killed her husband in self-defense. The Hollywood actress was just 15 at the time and spent years lying about her father’s death. In 2004, she gave her first television interview about that traumatic night to ABC News’ Diane Sawyer.
“I think, for me, it took a long time to sink in, what had really happened because you just don’t think stuff like that will ever happen to you,” she said.
Theron said she was in her bedroom when her father and an uncle came home after a bout of drinking. An aunt had called the house to warn that her father was agitated.
“Nature gives you instinct. And I knew something bad was going to happen,” Theron said.
Her mother later testified that her father began shooting at the front gate and banged on the door of Theron’s bedroom saying, “Tonight I’m going to kill you both with the shotgun.”
The actress said after her father fired into her bedroom door, her mother grabbed a handgun and shot him. An attorney general ruled it an act of self-defense, and Theron’s mother was never prosecuted. Years later Theron, often called the “Benoni bombshell” in South Africa, has become an outspoken advocate for raising awareness about domestic violence in her home country.