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Niece of murder victim uses 'honey trap' to catch prime suspect

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'Ms Sergison set up a bogus Facebook account to befriend his contacts' (stock image)

'Ms Sergison set up a bogus Facebook account to befriend his contacts' (stock image)

'Ms Sergison set up a bogus Facebook account to befriend his contacts' (stock image)

The prime suspect in the murder of a British woman who owned a safari lodge in South Africa has been arrested after the victim's niece set a 'honey trap' on Facebook to track him down.

Christine Robinson (59) was raped and murdered six years ago at the 125-acre Rra-Ditau lodge which she ran alone, but her killer has remained at large. The widow had withdrawn about £3,500 (€3,900) from the bank to pay staff on the eve of the attack in July 2014 and was found in a bedroom the next morning with her throat slashed.

The gardener suspected of carrying out the attack - Andrew Ndlovu, who was 24-years-old at the time - subsequently disappeared and was thought to have slipped over the border to his native Zimbabwe.

As police interest in the case waned over the years, Ms Robinson's niece, Lehanne Sergison, decided to try to trace him. The 49-year-old from Kent had struggled to keep public focus on the murder despite delivering a petition to Downing Street in 2014 demanding action.

Rumours circulated that Mr Ndlovu had returned to South Africa so Ms Sergison set up a bogus Facebook account to befriend his contacts. She posed as an attractive South African air stewardess and soon discovered his new Facebook account, which she traced to a profile used on dating sites. Ms Sergison told Mr Ndlovu that "he was hot" and over time they arranged a date in Johannesburg.

But her hopes of setting up a sting operation were scuppered when the police would not co-operate.

"I nearly got him 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 them on social media," Ms Sergison said.

However, she decided to defy official advice by sharing a picture on social media. It was picked up by a campaign group called AfriForum which circulated the picture online. A breakthrough came when a member of the public provided details of where he worked and lived. Police were handed the details and he was arrested on suspicion of rape and murder in Johannesburg within 12 hours of the original Facebook post.

Ms Sergison said: "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."

Irish Independent