Louis VAN Schoor


Louis VAN Schoor

A.K.A.: "Apartheid Killer" - "Dum-Dum Killer"

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Ex-policeman - Security guard
Number of victims: 7 - 39 +
Date of murders: 1986 - 1989
Date of birth: 1951
Victims profile: Black men (alleged burglars)
Method of murder: Shooting (9mm Parabellum pistol)
Location: South Africa
Status: Sentenced to 20 years in prison on April 1992. Released October 2004

Sentenced: 20-years

Note: The most notorious case is that of Sybrand (Louis) van Schoor, a security guard and ex-policeman who shot dead 39+ alleged burglars over a few years. After each incident, magistrates found that he had acted within the law; he was not once cautioned by the police or the courts.

Was sentenced for seven murders and two attempted murders. He has been in jail at the East London Prison since he was convicted in the Supreme Court in April 1992.

Serial Killer released on parole after serving 12 years of 20-years sentence

October 31, 2004

Serial Killer Louis van Schoor embraced and kissed his fiancé passionately, when he was released on parole Friday after having served 12 out of of 20 years from Fort Glamorgan Prison in East London. Van Schoor had been convicted 1992 for seven murders and two attempted murders.

Van Schoor (53), a former member of the police dog unit and security guard, made headlines worldwide, when suspicion arose, he had killed 39 people. Once he confessed towards a journalist, having shot more than hundred between 1986 and 1989 when active as security guard.

His modus operandi was the same every time: He responded to silent alarms of business premises, then shot suspects with his 9mm Parabellum.

His daughter, the mother-murderer Sabrina van Schoor (23) serves her 25 years in the same prison after hiring a hitman to slit her mothers throat in 2002. She paid a man to kill her mother Beverly because she had physically and verbally abused her. As the hitman stabbed her mother, Sabrina waited in the bedroom with her baby.

Before her trial Sabrina wished, that her father would care for her baby, even though she once stated that he had assaulted her mother and threatened to kill her.

Van Schoor's fiancé, Eunice de Kock (38), a lawyer from Cape Town (ZA) will be his fifth wife.

Van Schoor held a media briefing immediately after his release and expressed his happiness, to rejoin society, public should not judge him by his past but by his future. Asked by a journalist about his victims, van Schoor stated: “To the families and friends of my victims, I apologise if my action caused any hurt and discomfort.”

Killer of 39+ released

November 6, 2004

The man dubbed South Africa's worst serial murderer strides into the Wimpy on down-at-heel East London's grandly named Esplanade.

A tall, tanned, fit-looking middle-aged man is flanked by a teenage daughter on each side.

The name of this man with piercing green-grey eyes and a distinctive long beard can be found alongside Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy on international lists of serial killers.

'I've done my time'. He is Louis van Schoor - the former policeman-turned-security guard who is alleged to have killed 39 people and is alleged to have shot as many as 100.

He is now out of prison on parole after serving 12 years, four months and 13 days of his 91-year sentence that effectively translated into a 20-year prison term.

Van Schoor orders soft drinks for his daughters who lean against and look lovingly at their dad while he gazes intently round the restaurant before beginning to talk about the past, how prison has left him born again, a "changed man", and his dreams for the future - a future that includes a fifth marriage and a farm.

His fiancée, Eunice de Kock, is a lawyer in Cape Town who struck up a correspondence with Van Schoor after reading about him four years ago.

Letters turned to phone calls and then a visit on his birthday. Love blossomed and the two became engaged.

When I spoke to De Kock after her fiance's release, she was bubbling with happiness to be with the man she calls "bokkie" and "engel" and for whom she plans to give up law to go farming in Namaqualand.

Far from being concerned at being in love with a mass murderer, De Kock seems to have a soft spot for such killers; she also admires the apartheid killer Eugene de Kock, who is serving 112 years in Pretoria Central Prison.

Plans for marriage are consigned to the future, however, because her beloved is for the moment confined to the magisterial district of East London. He is not allowed to discuss either his trial or experiences in East London's Fort Galmorgan prison where he was apparently a model prisoner.

Van Schoor plans to write a book about his life, a narrative that he says will "set the record straight" and make it clear that he is neither a mass murderer nor a serial killer but instead a "crime fighter".

Van Schoor's protracted shooting spree took place at a time of intense racial polarisation in the late 1980s - that time of states of emergency, mass revolt, white repression and fear.

And South African history, according to Van Schoor - who at one point planned to apply for amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission - has much to do with his killings, although he denies they were racially motivated.

Van Schoor says he was very much a product of his society and experiences, which included special training in the police and stints on the then border.

But he denies that his killings were motivated by blood-lust or racism. He says he was merely doing his job as he thought right at the time, a time when the law allowed one to shoot a fleeing suspect in "self-defence". He refers to these killings as "incidents".

"It was nothing to do with race. I was purely protecting people's property," Van Schoor says.

Van Schoor's modus operandi was to respond to silent alarms at business premises and shoot intruders with his 9mm pistol - as many as eight or 10 times, according to court testimony.

He would then phone the police to come to the scene, and if the victim survived, he would be arrested. If dead, the killing would occasion only an inquest hearing.

In the way of South African society at the time, these "intruders" were black, the judicial authorities white - a racial divide that goes a long way to explain how a security guard could get to shoot so many people without raising a judicial eyebrow.

When Van Schoor's shooting career eventually and belatedly came to public attention, lurid accounts emerged of a huge, bearded figure prowling dark buildings and firing repeatedly at cowering suspects who were often unarmed and sometimes shot in the back as they fled.

But when Van Schoor was brought to trial in the dying days of apartheid, he had more than a little support in his home town. Cars sported I love Louis stickers illustrated with a black heart pierced by bullets.

Today, Van Schoor winces at the mention of these stickers and the racial polarisation they expressed. He says he has no time for racists and his prison experience has made him the more adamant that racial difference is irrelevant and that people are people.

Experts still quibble over whether Van Schoor should be classified as a mass murderer or a serial killer. The killer himself rejects both these labels.

"That is very far from the truth. I was a crime fighter," he repeatedly asserts.

Van Schoor says the security company he owned at the time was responsible for policing seven out of 10 businesses in East London and it was his job to deter intruders.

How do you get to shoot one person, let alone dozens?.."I can't say it is easy, but I suppose the time I spent in the police made me used to shooting and killing," he replies.

One of the stranger aspects of the Van Schoor tale, which unfolded when the country began taking its first steps towards negotiations and the demise of apartheid, was his role in confiding in journalists about his ever-rising death toll.

Van Schoor is doing his best now to duck media attention. But in talking, it becomes clear how he disclosed details of his shooting toll to journalists.

He is articulate and frank. Despite carefully considering his answers, he does duck dealing with painful questions about the past while his daughters look on with the self-same grey-green eyes.

So how many people did he really shoot?.."I don't remember. I don't really know" is the chilling reply.

Whose face does he remember from the darkness at those after-hours premises? Which victim stands out?

"None," is the answer.

"I don't remember faces. I remember some events, sequences of things," Van Schoor says.

Is he sorry now?

"In 2000 because of the rehabilitation and progress I felt on my side, and in the light of so much bad publicity and so on, I made an effort to contact the victims, their families. We couldn't do it.

"I then went to the media and made a public apology, rightly or wrongly. I apologised for the pain, suffering my actions caused them. I meant this sincerely. There was huge public response, but to this day I've had no contact with them (families/victims)."

He has also no idea of the whereabouts and no desire to meet his bete noire, a young journalist who was working at the local paper at the time.

Every solved murder story has a detective hero; in this case it was journalist Patrick Goodenough, who investigated rumours about Van Schoor after initially regarding them as too outlandish to be true.

What Goodenough and a colleague, Dominic Jones, gradually gathered from inquest files, court records, interviews with survivors and chats with the good burghers of East London was a chilling dossier of carnage.

Goodenough battled to get the story into print in the face of timid and disbelieving editors. Eventually the story of East London's fast-off-the-mark security guard made it to the front page of the Sunday Tribune.

What the white justice system viewed as no more than an efficient security guard, the wider world saw very differently. The publicity led to more people coming forward, with more chilling accounts, mainly to the Black Sash, an anti-apartheid human rights advocacy organisation. ..It was claimed that Van Schoor dragged victims into deserted premises and then shot them.

"I never did that. Never," the paroled killer says.

In the end, Van Schoor was charged with 19 cases of murder and 21 of attempted murder. He was convicted of seven murders and two attempted murders.

The law was changed to prevent similar shootings by security personnel.

When Van Schoor went to jail, it was around the time Chris Hani was assassinated and the country was teetering on the edge of an uncertain future.

Van Schoor has come out of jail 10 years into democracy.

"There are no words to describe how it feels to be free, but I am still waiting to enjoy fully the fruits of democracy," he said.

His first outing as a free man was to lunch with his elderly mother and relatives, but Van Schoor says he is lying low partly because of public attention.

Interestingly there has been virtually no reaction from the black community.

The silence is significant. Van Schoor's victims were black, poor and in many cases itinerant. Who knows whether the relatives of the dead and the survivors know this figure of their nightmares is free.

From the stares from other tables at the Wimpy it is a different matter for white East Londoners. But Van Schoor does not want to run away because of his notoriety.

"I've done my time. I ask people not to judge me on the past, but the future," Van Schoor said.

Van Schoor might be free, but Fort Glamorgan is not entirely gone from his life.

One of Van Schoor's last acts before leaving prison was to bid farewell to another daughter, Sabrina, serving a 25-year sentence for hiring a killer to murder her mother, Beverley.

Sabrina's trial was something of a cause celebre in the Eastern Cape, not least because her defence was that her mother kept her a prisoner to prevent her mixing with coloured and black friends.

Sabrina astonished people by declaring that she wanted her father to look after her mixed race child, who is in the custody of the state and said to be happy in a foster home.

Sabrina's half-brothers have rejected the child, but Van Schoor says the colour of his grandchild makes no difference. He hopes to get to know the little girl but he will not be making a bid to take her away from her foster family.

"Let her stay where she is happy and secure," Van Schoor said.

His last words before leaving the restaurant are: "I'm not a serial killer. I called the police after each encounter."

Apartheid killer finds religion but not remorse

Case of freed racist murderer highlights refusal of whites to take responsibility for the past

By Rory Carroll - The Guardian

Friday, August 4, 2006

South Africa's most prolific mass murderer takes another sip of coffee, eases back in his chair and pauses when asked if it is true he shot more than 100 black people. "I can't argue with that," says Louis van Schoor. "I never kept count."

Seated at a restaurant terrace in East London, a seaside town in the Eastern Cape, the former security guard is a picture of relaxed confidence, soaking up sunshine while reminiscing about his days as an apartheid folk hero.

Hired to protect white-owned businesses in the 1980s, he is thought to have shot 101 people, killing 39, in a three-year spree. Some were burglars; others were passers-by dragged in from the street. All were black or coloured, the term for those of mixed race.

Convicted of murder but released from jail after 12 years, Van Schoor is unrepentant. "I was doing my job - I was paid to protect property. I never apologised for what I did."

He is not the only one. The whites in East London who turned a blind eye to his killing spree have not apologised and whites in general, according to black clerics and politicians, have not owned up to apartheid-era atrocities.

That reluctance to atone has been laid bare in a book published last week, The Colour of Murder, by Heidi Holland, which investigates the bloodsoaked trail not only of Van Schoor but also his daughter, Sabrina, who hired a hitman to murder her mother.

The macabre tale is likely to reignite debate about those whites who shun the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and mock rainbow nation rhetoric. "The story is of a family but it is also the story of a divided country and of the people of that country trying to find new ways to live with each other," says Ms Holland.

Since his release two years ago, after benefiting from a sentence reduction for all convicts issued by Nelson Mandela when he was president, Van Schoor, 55, has slimmed down, shaved off his beard and kept a low profile, working as a cattle farm foreman outside East London.

During his 1992 trial white residents displayed "I Love Louis" stickers decorated with three bullet holes through a bleeding heart. Sympathy endures, says Van Schoor. "The reaction is 90% positive. Strangers say, 'Hey, it's good to see you.'"

Magistrates and the police, grateful for the terror instilled in black people, covered his tracks until local journalists and human rights campaigners exposed the carnage as apartheid crumbled. Van Schoor was convicted of seven murders and two attempted murders.

Upon his release in 2004, Van Schoor said he had found God and, when prompted, expressed sorrow to his victims' relatives. "I apologise if any of my actions caused them hurt."

In an interview this week, he tried to clarify his position. "I never apologised for what I did. I apologised for any hurt or pain that I caused through my actions during the course of my work."

Thanks to his changed appearance and low profile he has faced no backlash. Few black people recognise him, including the bookseller who took his order for The Colour of Murder. When Van Schoor gave his name the penny dropped. "She nearly fell off her chair," he says, smiling.

Married four times and now engaged to a local woman, Van Schoor, speaking softly and warily, says he is "happy and content". But he does not seem to approve of the new South Africa. "Everything has changed - people's attitudes, the service in shops, it's not the same."

On the contrary, lament black leaders, one crucial thing has stayed the same: the refusal of many whites to admit past sins. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel peace laureate, recently said the privileged minority that once feared retribution had not shown enough gratitude for peaceful inclusion in a multi-racial democracy. Nkosinathi Biko, the son of the murdered anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, noted the dearth of white voices during last month's commemorations of the June 1976 Soweto uprising, when police slaughtered black schoolchildren. A liberal white commentator, Max du Preez, called the silence embarrassing.

Nowhere is it more deafening than East London. Van Schoor's rampage was made possible by a white establishment that made no outcry as his victims piled up, many of them impoverished children such as Liefie Peters, 13, gunned down while hiding in the toilet of a Wimpy restaurant after breaking in to steal cash.

This week, eating a burger yards from where Van Schoor cornered his prey, Jacques Durandt, a 33-year-old white former member of the security forces, defended the killer. "I won't say he's a murderer. For him it was a job."

Wannitta Kindness, a 36-year-old white taxi driver parked outside the restaurant, says the security guard might have fired even if the intruder was white. "But you don't find white people breaking into places."

Others echoed the refrain: denied jobs reserved for black people, targeted by criminals, harassed in the street, victims in South Africa these days have pale skin and they see no reason to apologise. "The blacks don't want equality," says Ms Kindness. "They want to be on top."

East London does boast at least one white advocate of racial harmony: Van Schoor's daughter, Sabrina, 25. While her father was in jail she shocked the white community by dating black men and giving birth to a mixed-race child.

In 2002, in a grisly irony, she hired a black man to slit her mother's throat, claiming she was a racist bully.

Convicted of murder and sent to the same prison as her father, Sabrina van Schoor is seen as a martyr by some black people. She seems popular among fellow inmates at Fort Glamorgan jail. "That girl, she's not like the whites outside of here. She's OK," says one inmate.

Speaking through iron bars, Sabrina van Schoor, powerfully built like her father, says she is nervous about her family history coming under public scrutiny again because of the book. "I'm afraid it might open old wounds."

Blame game goes on in a society dogged by murder and violence

Each time someone is murdered in South Africa - which happens about 50 times more often than it does in Europe - 2010 flashes through the minds of football administrators and politicians. That year, when the country stages the World Cup, has become as much of a test of South Africa's ability to rule itself as the 1994 election which introduced majority rule.

While most World Cup hosts get nervous at some stage of preparations, about the capacity of stadiums or transport systems, in South Africa the worry is murder. Just as violence threatened to derail the peace train heading for majority rule 12 years ago, so there are fears that it is about to humiliate the country.

One of the most puzzling aspects is that the violence, long associated with tensions arising from racial divisions, has failed to disappear with apartheid. The statistics are unreliable; the police and government do not like releasing them because of their impact on tourism. But it is believed that the only country to rival South Africa in the crime stakes over recent years has been Colombia. The issue is intrinsic to life in South Africa.

Blame tends to be coloured by political perspective. The government blames illegal immigrants and organised crime. Farmers who see neighbours killed on lonely homesteads blame the ANC, which they claim is after their land. The rich blame the poor and, of course, whites blame black people. Crime replaces the weather in small talk - until an incident of particular savagery, such as the recent case of a white farmer who threw a black farmworker into a lions' cage, to be eaten alive.

The South African author André Brink fell victim to crime when gunmen raided a country restaurant where he was having dinner with his family, assaulted them and locked them in a storeroom. He said he received a flood of letters in response to an article he wrote about the experience.

"Each one of them has encountered, either personally or through family and close friends, examples of the violence which has come not only to cloud all the laudable achievements of our young democracy but to threaten the very likelihood of success for this democracy," Brink said.

Louis Van Schoor free