Schoenmakerskop: A Murder Most Heinous

Noted more for its solitude and friendly demeanour and none of the city’s hustle and bustle and other vices, yet this quaint village has suffered its fair share of the most heinous crime over the course of its existence. 

This blog deals with the second of them; the murder of Mr JJ Janssen. Like the first murder in Schoenmakerskop, it was committed in the local tea room. However, unlike the first slaying in which the motive was purely robbery with murder as a consequence, in stark contrast, this one bore the hallmarks of baser emotions: a premeditated vicious murder. 

Main picture: Johannes Jacobus Jansen

The First Murder

Despite their worst fears, my grandparents, Harry and Daisy McCleland, had survived the worst that life could throw at them. First the young couple had their livelihood destroyed due to flooding of the Gamtoos River and then the rinderpest destroyed their cattle herd at Des Stades. These were the lived realities in those bygone days. Changing occupations, the couple opened a tea room at Schoenmaker’s Kop, The Hut, which still exists in its modern iteration as The Sacramento.

Schoenmakerskop in December 1922 outside Daisy’s Tea Room called THE HUT

The ill omen struck yet again. Harry contracted Black Water Fever [Phthisis pulmonalis per the Death Notice] while on service in German East Africa during the Great War. Still with a relatively young family, Harry was unable to work and eventually passed away on the 13th June 1925.

As if all this pain, sorrow and tragedy was insufficient, one more challenge would present itself.

The much-vaunted tranquillity of Schoenmakerskop was first shattered on the Sunday night, the 9th August 1925. On this fateful night, my grandmother, Daisy McCleland, awoke upon hearing scratching. In turn, she awoke her son, Francis Joseph Walker McCleland, my uncle, to investigate. Upon grabbing a shotgun, he went to confront the intruder who was in the restaurant. Instead of firing the gun, he used it as a club on the intruder, climbing through the window. Instead of the intruder, the butt struck the window frame, discharging the shot. The full force of the blast struck young Francis in the chest.  Francis lingered between life and death for two days, finally succumbing to his wounds on the 11th August 1930.

Francis McCleland

Equanimity returns

The wounds were gradually healed and Schoenmakerskop resumed its slumber. Spring turned to summer with the muted green of the Norfolk pines displaying a more vibrant colour as if welcoming the hot, humid weather. From the fynbos emanated the continual screech of the cicadas in their own frenzied world. In stark contrast the sky was a uniform indolent blue while the sea sparkled and twinkled welcomingly and temptingly to all who cast their eyes seaward.

New ownership

The hamlet regained its equanimity as summer faded into an autumn of muted greens and yellows. Beneath the veneer of winter, life went on and wounds were healed but tragedies are never forgotten. They merely lie dormant waiting to strike fear once more.

Having run the Tea Room called The Hut since 1918, Elizabeth Daisy McCleland – granny Mac to me – was approaching retirement. During 1942, she sold the establishment to a J.F. Killassy who in turn sold to a Mrs Magdalene Jansen in 1947.

It is at such a remove that tragedy would strike again when least expected.

Ocean View Tea Lounge

Murder strikes again

After taking over the well-known tea room in Schoenmakerskop – then known as the Ocean View Tea Lounge – by the start of the 1949, the routine of running a popular café was now ingrained into the Jansen family. For Johannes Jacobus Jansen and his wife Magdalena it was the modern concept of the “blended family” with Patricia being from the wife’s previous marriage and four children being from the current marriage. On the 16th May 1949, the positive tenor of life for the Jansen family would be permanently upended. The end had been inevitable as Magdalena was suffering from cancer but her death must have especially upsetting for the younger children.

Floorplan of the Ocean View Tea Lounge

Beneath Schoenmakerskop’s veneer of affability, geniality and good neighbourliness, slunk a darker emotion. In this case, displeasure transmogrified into revenge. This emotion was given expression on the night of Sunday 2nd October 1949 when an intruder entered the Ocean View Tea Lounge at Schoenmakerskop. The intention was not the cash takings for the day as the till was bypassed. The targets of the intruder were the object of his mission. First Mr. Jansen was struck twice on the head with an axe. While he lay writhing on the bed, the masked intruder entered the bedroom of Patricia, Johannes’ step-child, and Lucy Carstens. The assailant struck the elder of the two sisters, Patricia, and ignored the petrified Lucy seeking shelter under the blankets like an ostrich. Content in the knowledge that his mission was accomplished, the intruder disappeared into the night through the open kitchen door.

J..J. Jansen

If it is not a case of robbery, then what was the motive for these vicious assaults? Suspicion initially fell on some of the staff of the tea room. As Jan Block, one of the Coloured labourers employed by Jansen, was to be dismissed the following day, suspicion probably fell on him as he was aware of this impending action. Whilst probable, but given the fact that three sets of footprints were discovered some distance behind the café, the perpetrator must have acted in concert with two others. An axe was uncovered. Then a discarded rain-cape was discovered in the bushes. That could explain why the intruder was not recognised.

Spare a thought for the residents of Schoenmakerskop. Greeting the perilous news with great shock and utter dismay, life would take time to regain its equilibrium. The timeless quality of life had been shattered. Visceral fear oozed and was felt palpably in their minds. Windows were warily examined, locks were dutifully triple checked and late evening and nocturnal walks and swims were verboten or curtailed.

Just as important as a plausible reason for murder was lurking in the background. While the Jansen family had resided in Mount Pleasant, a man by the name of Cyril Paton had shown a romantic interest in Patricia Carsten, Jansen’s step-daughter. Despite there being no reciprocity, Paton persisted with his amorous advances. The move to Schoenmakerskop had not ameliorated the situation. By now Patricia was assisting in the Tea Room but Paton saw fit to woo Patricia during working hours. With Patricia’s concurrence, Jansen had remonstrated with Paton and forbad him from entering the property. Would a potential lover scorned have been the motive for murder? Would a father’s decree be the trigger to a train of events culminating in murder?

J.J. Jansen

With nothing apart from suppositions linking Paton to the murder, the quartet of the Block brothers, Jan & Pieter, Frank Baartman and Willie Chipps, of whom Jan and Willie worked for Jansen, were the prime suspects. On the night of the 2-3 December, the police performed an in loco inspection in order to ascertain what the lighting conditions were like under various options – curtains, drawn or open, various lights on & off. With this information, combined with the fact that one of the staff had left windows and doors open, this left the Coloured employees as the suspected perpetrators.

It was this clique, all friends or at least acquaintances, that were ultimately charged with the murder. The probable cause was Jan Block’s impending dismissal.

It was now that the case would take its first of many unexpected turns. Another Coloured man, Jan Madatt, claimed that between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on October 3, he heard a knock on the door of his home in Fairview. It was Willie Chipps. “He asked me: ‘Which of the 1949 model motor cars do you like best?’ I answered: ‘I like the 1949 Ford saloon.’ Willie said that this was the car he was going to get but he did not say how or when he was going to get it. Willie slept at my house that night.”

This comment had two implications, firstly implicating Chipps in the murder and then linking Chipps as the hitman but not the initiator or mastermind behind the murder conspiracy. Unasked was whether Jan Block, a mere labourer, could afford to pay an accomplice a year’s salary or whether Chipps was mererly being delusional in his belief that Jan could afford such an amount.

Details of the attack

The testimony of three sisters – Patricia, Lucy and the young Jacqueline – brought to life the horror of that night.

After an ineffectual blow to the head, probably due to the poor lighting and hence visibility, Patricia, the eldest step-daughter kicked and struggled. Without completing his mission, her assailant made off, scurrying through the open kitchen door, which he must have opened beforehand. Patricia had been struck a glancing blow on the head but while serious, she was not grievously wounded. Patricia followed him for a while and then rushed to Jansen’s room where she collected a gun.

JJ Jansen 13-07-1904 to 03-10-1949 with Magdalena [Tossy] 20-02-1909 to 16-05-1949

She was about to follow the man outside the house but was persuaded by her younger sister, Lucy, that it would mean her death to do so. They then locked all the doors and ran to the telephone. Bloodstains and fingerprints were later discovered on the kitchen door. Shortly after 1 a.m. many residents in the village were roused by the ringing of their telephones – which are on the party line system – but on answering received no reply.

An Eastern Province Herald reporter who was living only two houses away, however, heard Patricia’s almost incoherent voice telling some person that she found it difficult to speak. About half a mile from the café, Mrs. Charles Newby, who with her husband, was roused by their police dog, answered the phone and heard Patricia’s sister crying: “Daddy’s been murdered.”

Mr. Newby immediately fetched his pistol and rushed to the café, where he found Jansen lying on his bed, which was soaked with blood. Jansen, he said, had terrible head injuries but was conscious and writhing, so much that Mr. Newby had to prevent him from rolling off his bed. He was mumbling incoherently and did not recognise Mr. Newby whom he had known well.

Patricia was also injured about the head and badly shocked, but her bed bore only light blood stains.  Seven-year-old Lucy Jansen was sharing a room with Patricia and woke to see a slim man, wearing a cap and with his coat collar pulled high, raise his arms above his head and strike Patricia with what looked like a hammer. She could not see whether the man was a European or not.

During all this time, the neighbour next door had heard nothing, while a man in a house close by was awakened by what he at first thought was screaming but soon decided was imagination. He went to sleep again. After some difficulty Mr. Newby summoned the police, an ambulance and a doctor. The injured people were taken to hospital. A large contingent of police arrived later. Nothing is believed to be missing from the café, although, in addition to the money in and besides the till, Jansen had about £40 in the pocket of his trousers, which were hanging in the bedroom.

Confusion sown

The quartet Pieter and Jan Block, Willie Chipps and Frank Baartman, all friends or acquantainces, were arrested for the murder. In appearing in court, the case would take some unforeseen twists and turns.

The first, of many contested details, related to items retrieved from the scene. Despite the police recovering an axe and a cape from the bushes near the house, their appearance suggested that they were not connected with the attack. However, those who saw Jansen and his step-daughter, Patricia, stated that their injuries appeared to have been inflicted with an axe. Sowing further confusion as regards the murder weapon was the testimony of a doctor who claimed that the wound indicated that a blunt instrument had been used and not a axe.

Schoenmakerskop – The Ocean View Tea Lounge

It was now that the defendant Willie Chipps would stun the court with two explosive facts. In the first of these, he admitted to killing Jansen. He exonerated his fellow detainees from involvement in the murder even though the killer clearly had accomplices. One can only subscribe this belated admission to remorse at having killed Jansen and possibly even to the fact that he felt anxious for his co-accused.

Willie Chipps then released another bombshell when he claimed that he had been offered £500 by Patricia to kill her stepfather. According to Chipps, Patricia wanted to marry Cyril Paton but also wanted her step-father’s money. What made this unlikely was that the quantum was so huge that it was implausible that Patricia could gain access to such a huge sum and probably more importantly whether Patricia bore any grudges against her stepfather and whether she had ever professed feelings towards Paton. It was absurd on all counts. Patricia also denied the allegations.

Verdict

Despite Willie Chipps’ admission of guilt, he was found not guilty due to “insufficient evidence” linking him to the murder. One would have expected a mea culpa to trump paucity of evidence but in his infinite wisdom, the judge elected to ignore the guilty plea.

The unexpected denouement of this story would be broken some six months later when the newspaper headline screamed: “Coloured man shot – European held.”  The Coloured man was none other Willie Chipps and the European Cyril Paton. According to the reports, the two men were on a hunting expedition between Walmer and Mount Pleasant when Paton accidentally shot Chipps.

Despite damning evidence, Paton was found not guilty.

If Chipps was the hitman, who was the mastermind? While it was possibly Jan Block, whose motive to kill Jansen, albeit spurious, is possible, a more likely candidate is Cyril Hugh Paton. Emotions especially affairs of the heart are a powerful stimulant to irrational behaviour. Lending credence to this supposition is Paton killing Chipps in a hunting accident. How convenient? With Willie “indisposed,” there was nobody remaining to implicate Paton in this murder.

What also lends further credence to Paton’s involvement in the murder was the fact that Cyril Paton had provided Willie Chipps with King’s Council. Why would a total stranger with no interest in the outcome have agreed to finance the defence team of the accused? In my view, both of these factors cast asperions on Cyril Paton and implicate his being the mastermind in the murder of JJ Jansen. Probably Chipps was correct in stating that he had been offered £500 to kill Jansen. However I strongly contend the offer was made by Paton and not the sweet and innocent Patricia.

Let’s us honest: This is supposition on my part and this contention has not been tested in a court of law.

What ultimately happened to Paton? Only official documents survive and like all such documents, they never portray the person behind the mask. Nonetheless, what can be gleaned is that Paton must swiftly have switched his love affection from Patricia as less than two years later he was to marry a Frederika Colson on the 24th March 1951.

Furthermore as some measure of closure and perhaps even schadenfreude for some members of the family, Cyril Hugh Paton was to pass away on 21st June 1989 in Johannesburg from liver cancer at a relatively young age of 65.

Schoenmakerskop-Daisy McCleland’s Tea Room on the right

Mr Jansen

Little of Mr. Jansen’s background is known, but he is thought to have been widely travelled. Evidently a jack-of-all-trades, aged 46, during his lifetime Jansen had been, among other things, a racehorse trainer, a dance-band leader and farmer. He is thought to have lived in Johannesburg until about two years prior when he bought a farm at Kragga Kamma. He sold this about 18 months later when he bought the Ocean View Tea Lounge.

Upon Reflection

Another senseless murder, like all murders are. Irrational emotions by an irrational man, Cyril Paton. This led to a train of events which left five young girls without a father. Perhaps in his fetid mind, he conjured up scenes of halcyon days alone with Patricia without a protective father to safeguard her from such a predator.

Who knows?

One can only imagine what emotional turmoil roiled in those young girls’ lives. Murder might snuff out one life but it blights many others – family and friends.

 

Sources

Francis McCleland: A Life Taken Too Young http://thecasualobserver.co.za/francis-mccleland-life-taken-young/

 

Newspaper clippings:

Herald 10th December 1949: Schoenmakerskop Inquiry

Die Burger: Vader en Dogter Aangerand

The Herald 2nd October 1949: Small girl describes attack on step-sister

The Herald December 1949: Café Proprietor Dies after Savage Attack

The Herald October 4, 1949: Step-daughter taken to scene of murder

The Herald December 10, 1949: Moonlight Inspection of Alleged Murder Scene Described

The Herald December 1949: Doctor does not think Axe used in Schoenmaker’s Kop Assaults

The Herald: Evidence of Story Told in Gaol

Evening Post: Said he Killed but he is Free

The Herald: Alleged Jail Confession

Argus: Acquitted of Murder – now Killed

Unknown newspaper: Coloured man shop – European held

 

Detailed newspaper clippings

a.    Herald 10th December 1949: Schoenmakerskop Inquiry

Moonlight inspection of alleged café murder scene described

Moonlight tests after midnight, carried out at the scene of the Schoenmaker’s Kop assaults, were described by a detective at yesterday’s hearing of a preparatory examination into an allegation of murder at which four Coloured men were appearing. The tests were conducted to establish visibility within the café.

The inquiry is a sequel to the death of J.J. Jansen, proprietor of the Ocean View Tearoom, Schoenmaker’s Kop, who was attacked in bed just after midnight on October 2. The accused are: Piet Block (24), Jan Block (20), Willie Chipps (22) and Frank Baartman (22). Mr. H.J. Barker, Additional Magistrate, presided and Mr. B. C.G. Harris led the evidence for the Crown.

Det.-Head Constable M. le Roux said that the night of the assaults, October 2-3, was a clear moonlit night. On the night of December 2-3, when the moon was at the same age as on the night of the assaults, he went to the café with Const. Strydom. They went into the café with all the lights off. With the curtains of the café section open, there was sufficient light for a person to walk about among the chairs and tables without disturbing anything, but with the curtains drawn, the light was very poor with every possibility of bumping into the furniture.

They then went into the room of Patricia and Jansen. With the curtains closed, it was pitch dark and a person on a bed or standing in either of the rooms could not be distinguished. With the curtains open, only a very faint outline of a person, either lying on the bed or moving about, could be seen. It would be almost impossible for anyone to deliver an accurate blow at a person lying on the bed.

With the light on in Mr Jansen’s room, one got a fairly clear outline in Patricia’s room of a person on the bed or moving about but not sufficient for identification purposes. With the light off in Mr. Jansen’s room, but that in the passage on, he found outlines much clearer and sufficient for identification.

With the passage light on, one could not fail to see Lucy in her bed behind the doors. It was possible that one would not notice her with the light on in Jansen’s room only. With the passage light on, one could see one’s way about the kitchen.

The hearing was then adjourned until today.

b.    Die Burger: Vader en Dogter Aangerand

‘n Middeljarige blanke, mnr. C. Jansen, van die Ocean View-kafee, Schoenmakerskop, en sy stiefdogter is Sondagnag wreed in hul slap met ‘n stomp voorwerp deur ‘n man aangerand. Mnr. Jansen het ernstige kopbeserings opgedoen en is gisteraand in the Provinsiale Hospitaal oorlede. Sy stiefdogter, Patricia Carstens (18), is ook in the hospitaal.

Die aanrander het die oggend tussen twaalf and eenuur deur die nou ysterstalies van ‘n oop venster gekruip. Hy het deur die kafee geloop tot ‘n kamer aan die agterkant van die gebou, waar hy mnr. Jansen met a stomp voorwerp verskeie kere oor die kop geslaan het.

In die kamer langsaan het hy Patricia ook bewusteloos geslaan. Toe sy ‘n ruk later haar bewyssyn herwin, het die aanrander by the agterdeur uitgehardloop.

Geen geld is skynbaar gesteel nie. Die ander inwoners van due huis, almal kinders. Het na die aanranding waker geword.

c.     The Herald 2nd October 1949: Small girl describes attack on step-sister

Eight-year old Lucy Claudette Jansen describes at Schoenmaker’s Kop murder inquiry at Port Elizabeth how she awoke on the night of October 2 and saw a man standing in the bedroom with an axe in his hand.

He wore a cap and a cloak, she stated, and swung “something that looked like an axe” down towards her step-sister, Patricia Carsten, in the other bed.

“I started screaming, and I don’t know what happened further because I put the blanket over my head,” she said.

Lucy was giving evidence at a preparatory examination of an allegation of murder against four Coloured men, Pieter Block, aged 24, Jan Block, 20, Willie Chipps, 22, and Frank Baartman, 22. Her father, J.J. Jansen, proprietor of the Ocean View Tearoom, Schoenmaker’s Kop, died in hospital after being assaulted in his room at the tearoom on October 2.

Undefended

The resumed hearing yesterday was before Mr. H. J. Barker. All four accused were undefended. Willie Chipps, at a previous hearing, stated that Miss Carstens, who was also assaulted at the tearoom, had offered him £500 to kill Jansen. Miss Carstens denied this allegation.

Referring to incidents which occurred in the bedroom she shared with Miss Carstens on the night of October 2, Lucy said that about 7.45 p.m., leaving Patricia with her father in the kitchen, she went to bed. She awoke when Patricia arrived and heard a noise from the top of the bed. She asked Patricia what it was. Her step-sister told her not to worry and that it was only a picture moving. Lucy said that she fell asleep after Patricia got into the other bed. When she awoke she saw a man standing beside Patricia’s bed.

She saw the man by the light which came from the bedroom window, she continued. He had a cloak and cap on, and, in his hand was an instrument that looked like an axe. He made a slow downward movement with it towards Patricia.

Screamed

Lucy added that she screamed and pulled the blanket over her head. When she got up, Patsy was telephoning. She said that she went to her father’s room and saw him lying on the bed, bleeding from the head. She saw Patricia standing in the passage with a gun in her hand, and Patricia’s head was also bleeding.

When Willie Chipps asked Lucy if she knew who the person standing in the bedroom was, she replied that she did not know. She had not seen him get through the bedroom window.

Jacqueline Jansen, Lucy’s younger sister, said she knew that her father had kept a knobkerrie under his mattress but the last time she saw it was two or three weeks before his death. Referring to Jan Block, she said that he was due to be paid off on the following morning and that Block knew this. On the Saturday before her father’s death, Jan Block and a Native had cleaned the café windows.

Footprints

Constable T.C. Roux, recalled, said that on the morning of Oct. 3, he went to the Ocean View Café to investigate. Some distance behind the café, he found three sets of footprints which had been made by three different pairs of shoes. Willie Chipps pointed to one pair of shoes exhibited in the court, which Constable Roux said would produce tracks similar to those he found, and said, “I say, they are my shoes.”

When the Assistant District Surgeon, Dr. I.J. Miller, entered the witness-box, the prosecutor, Mr. Harris, asked him: “Bearing in mind the operation performed on the deceased, which would you say was more likely to have inflicted the injuries – an axe or a knobkerrie?”

Dr, Miller answered that he thought the knobkerrie the more likely. He said that he based his evidence on the picture that Dr. Grieve had when he operated on the deceased. He considered that Dr. Grieve had a better picture of the injuries before the operation that he (Dr. Miller) had when he did the post-mortem.

Mr. Harris: Would that be on account of the operation? – Yes. The wounds might have been extended for the purposes of the operation.”

With regard to the fracture, pieces of bone might have been removed? I actually found that bone had been removed. When I did the post-mortem all the wounds were stitched.

Found axe

Inspector H.J. Croucamp told the Court how he found the axe, exhibited in Court, in the bush behind the café. A rain-cape had also been found there by Constable Roux. Daniel Stone, a Coloured man, stated that he had worked for two months for Jansen. He knew all four accused and while he was there, Jan Block and Willie Chipps also worked for Jansen. Daniel told the Court how on the evening of October 2, he went to sleep while a number of Coloured and Native boys were gambling in the room. Piet and Jan Block were there. Later, Jan woke him up, he added, and there was someone else with him. He did not know who.

Daniel added that Jan went out and closed the door. “I did not hear any noises or talking outside. I fell asleep again, then the constable woke me,” he said. “At that time only Martin, Henry and I were in the room.”

Remark in car

Coloured Constable C.L. Harvey stated that in the last week of August or the first week of September, he saw Jansen and Piet Block come to the Walmer charge office. When they left the office, and got inton Jansen’s car, he heard Piet day to Jansen: “Oh. Baas brought me to the Police. Baas will see what I am going to do.”

Another Coloured man, Jan Madatt, said that between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on October 3, he heard a knock on the door of his hime in Fairview. It was Willie Chipps. “He asked me: ‘Which of the 1949 model motor cars do you like best?’ I answered: ‘I like the 1949 Ford saloon.’ Willie said that this was the car he was going to get but he did not say how or when he was going to get it. Willie slept at my house that house.”

The hearing was adjourned until today.

d.    The Herald December 1949: Café Proprietor Dies after Savage Attack

The proprietor of the Ocean View Rea Lounge at Schoenmaker’s Kop, Mr. Jacobus Jansen has died, and his attractive young stepdaughter, Patricia Carstens, is suffering from head injuries and shock, as a result of an attack made upon them early yesterday morning by a man who, it is believed, used an axe as a weapon.

Four young girls who were sleeping in the same building were unhurt, although one, aged eight, saw the assailant raise a weapon above his head and strike Patricia.

Robbery is not thought to be the motive for the grime.

A C.I.D officer after interviewing people closely connected with the tragedy, said that the background was the most unusual he had ever encountered. A senior police official commented: “The most unusual aspect is that not a thing was stolen from the café. Obviously, I cannot speak of the suspects we have, but senior officers are conducting the most thorough investigations.”

No arrests have been made.

People who live near the scene and who were on hand when it was discovered, and attended the preliminary investigations, told an Eastern Province Herald reporter that the intruder must have entered the building through a window in the front of the café – the only window which was not fitted with a catch.

 

No fingerprints

To do so, he had to squeeze through narrow bars on the inside of the window, but although fingerprint experts worked on the window, the results obtained are believed to have been unsatisfactory. The man then, it is thought, crossed the café, scorning the till which contained money, and a bag of money lying in a drawer beside it and entered Jansen’s room. Jansen was struck four or five times and his head was split open on the one side.

It is suggested that the assailant waited in the room for about an hour after the attack before something turned him to Patricia’s room, where he struck her two blows – one near the forehead and the other on the side of the head. But for the thickness of her hair, her injuries might have proved fatal.

Kicked and Struggled

When the girl kicked and struggled, her assailant made off, disappearing through the kitchen door, which he must have opened beforehand. She followed him for a while and then rushed to Jansen’s room where she collected a gun.

She was about to follow the man outside the house but was persuaded by her younger sister that it would mean her death to do so. They then locked all the doors and ran to the telephone.

Bloodstains and fingerprints were later discovered on the kitchen door. Shortly after 1 a.m. many residents in the village were roused by the ringing of their telephones – which are on the party line system – but on answering received no reply.

An Eastern Province Herald reporter who was living only two houses away, however, heard Patricia’s almost incoherent voice telling some person that she found it difficult to speak.

Child Crying

About half a mile from the café, Mrs. Charles Newby, who with her husband, was roused by their police dog, answered the phone and heard Patricia’s sister crying: “Daddy’s been murdered.”

Mr. Newby immediately fetched his pistol and rushed to the café, where he found Jansen lying on his bed, which was soaked with blood. Jansen, he said, had terrible head injuries but was conscious and writhing, so much that Mr. Newby had to prevent him from rolling off his bed. He was mumbling incoherently and did not recognise Mr. Newby whom he had known well.

Badly shocked

Patricia was also injured about the head and badly shocked, but her bed bore only light blood stains.  Eight-year-old “Lucky” Jansen was sharing a room with Patricia and woke to see a slim man, wearing a cap and with his coat collar pulled high, raise his arms above his head and strike Patricia with what looked like a hammer. She could not see whether the man was a European or not.

During all this time, the neighbour next door had heard nothing, while a man in a house close by was awakened by what he at first thought was screaming but soon decided was imagination. He wento to sleep again. After some difficulty Mr. Newby summoned the police, an ambulance and a doctor. The injured people were taken to hospital. A large contingent of police arrived later.

Nothing Missing

Nothing is believed to be missing from the café, although, in addition to the money in and besides the till, Jansen had about £40 in the pocket of his trousers, which were hanging in the bedroom.

The police recovered an axe and a cape from the bushed near the house, but their appearance suggested that they were not connected with the attack. Those who saw Jansen and his stepdaughter however, stated that their injuries appeared to have been inflicted with an axe.

Jansen died at 6.45 p.m. yesterday. His wife, Mrs. Magdalene Jansen died on May 16 of this year at the age of 40. They are survived by Patricia and Magdalene, both her daughtes by an earlier marriage, and three daughters of their own marriage, all of whom were in the café at the time of the assault.

About 20 years ago tragedy also visited the café when the son of the proprietor woke to find a Native in his room, reached for his loaded rifle and accidentally shot himself.

e.    The Herald October 4, 1949: Step-daughter taken to scene of murder

Schoenmaker’s Kop Combed by Police

Patricia Carstens, 20-year-old step-daughter of Mr. Jacobus Jansen who was murdered in a back room of his café, the Ocean View Tea Lounge at Schoenmaker’s Kop was taken from the Provincial Hospital by police car today to the scene of the murder. After police had questioned her and reconstructed the crime, Miss Carstens was taken back to hospital.

No arrest has been made up to the time of going to Press, nor had the murder weapon been found. Every available European and non-European member of the C.I.D. has been put on the case and the whole of the Schoenmaker’s Kop area, which includes a large section of bushy undergrowth, has been combed without success. It is known that an axe was not used, and the police are seeking for a blunt instrument. 

Between Bars

After Miss Carstens had been questioned, a burly detective demonstrated how easily a man could enter the café between the window bars. Although the bars are only about nine inches apart they are thin and pliable, and the detective was able to shrug his way through without much difficulty.

Several possible suspects have been interviewed and eliminated. A motive has not been definitely established, but it is believed to be either revenge and robbery. A senior police official pointed out that it was impossible to tell whether or not the murderer punched the cash register, and, finding only a few shillings inside, went to Mr. Jansen’s room to search his clothing.  The day’s takings were in Mr. Jansen’s wallet in his coat, but were untouched.

Enemies

Little of Mr. Jansen’s background is known, but he is thought to have been widely travelled, and may have had enemies. He was aged about 40, and during his lifetime had been, among other things, a racehorse trainer, a dance-band leader and farmer. He is thought to have lived in Johannesburg until about two years ago when he bought a farm at Kragga Kamma. He sold this about 18 months ago when he bought the Ocean View Tea Lounge. His step-daughter, Patricia, worked at the café.

The Schoenmakers Kop area is noted for its lack of crime, although residents there report an influx of Natives to the bushes at night since the police campaign to “clean up” the bush area around Walmer and Summerstrand.

f.     The Herald December 10, 1949: Moonlight Inspection of Alleged Murder Scene Described

Moonlight tests after midnight, carried out at the scene of the Schoenmaker’s Kop assaults, were described by a detective at yesterday’s hearing of a preparatory examination into an allegation of murder at which four Coloured men are appearing. The tests were conducted to established visibility within the café.

The inquiry is a sequel to the death of J.J. Jansen, proprietor of the Ocean View Tearoom, Schoenmaker’s Kop, who was attacked in bed after midnight on October 2. The accused are: Piet Block (24), Jan Block (20), Willie Chipps (22) and Frank Baartman (22).

Mr. H.J. Barker, Additional Magistrate, presided and Mr. B.C.G. Harris led the evidence for the Crown. Det.-Head Constable M. le Roux said that the night of the assaults, assaults 2-3, was a clear moonlit night. On the night of December 2-3, when the moon was at the same age as on the night of the assaults he went to the café with Constr. Strydom.

They went into the café with all the lights off. With the curtains of the café section open there was sufficient light for a person to walk about among the chairs and tables without disturbing.

Anything, but with the curtains drawn, the light was very poor with every possibility of bumping into furniture.

They then went into the room of Patricia and Jansen. With the curtains closed it was pitch dark and a person on a bed or standing in either of the rooms could not be distinguished. With the curtains open, only a very faint outline of a person, either lying on the bed or moving about, could be seen. It would be almost impossible for anyone to deliver an accurate blow at a person lying on the bed.

Light on

With the light on in Mr. Jansen’s room, one got a fairly clear outline in Patricia’s room of a person on the bed or moving about but not sufficient for identification purposes. With the light off in Mr. Jansen’s room, but that in the passage on, he found outlines much clearer and sufficient for identification.

With the passage light on, one could not fail to see Lucy in her bed behind the doors. It was possible that one would not notice her with the light on in Jansen’s room only. With the passage light on one could see one’s way about the kitchen.

The hearing was then adjourned until today.

g.    The Herald December 1949: Doctor does not think Axe used in Schoenmaker’s Kop Assaults

Statements alleged to have been made to two Port Elizabeth Magistrates by two of the four men appearing at a preparatory examination into an allegation of murder arising from the death of J.J. Jansen, the proprietor of the Ocean View Café, Schoenmaker’s Kop, were admitted at yesterday’s hearing of the inquiry before Mr. H.J. Barker, Additional Magistrate.

Medical evidence about the injuries sustained by Miss Patricia Carsten, Jansen’s step-daughter, which were described as serious, and those received by Jansen, was given. The men appearing are: Pieter Block (24), Jan Block (20), Willie Chipps (22), and Frank Baartman (22).

Mr. R. Bax, Additional Magistrate, in evidence, said that on October 14, Jan Block came to him and made a statement of his own free will. Block said that he wished to make the statement because he was innocent of the crime.

His brother, Pieter, Jan told Mr. Bax, came to the café a few days before Jansen’s death and asked him to leave a window of the café open when he next cleaned them “so that he could get into the café.”

On the day before Jansen was assault he, Jan, cleaned the windows and left one in the corner slightly open.

Had Words

Jan said that one day when Jansen was in the City, Pieter and Miss Patricia Carsten “had words” and Pieter left the café. When Jansen returned, he went after Pieter, found him on the road and took him to the Walmer Police Station. Pieter then returned to work. On that day Pieter said to him, witness, “I will do my thing to the farmer (ek sal my ding doen aan die boer).”

Pieter came to the café again on the evening before Jansen was assaulted and asked Jan if he had left the window open. Jan replied that he had.

On the Sunday night, a number of the Coloured and Native staff gambled in the “hall” in the Native quarters, Jan said. In the hall he noticed that Pieter and a Native each had a length of piping and another Native had a torch. These three left the hall between midnight and 1 a.m. and the others continued to gamble.

Later on, Jan said, he went to bed and awakened by the police and was told “something bad has happened.” He was later shown a shopping bag by a member of the C.I.D., which he recognised as one he had seen on the bed of Pieter’s girlfriend, Evelyn. Pieter had had the shopping bag in his possession on Sunday.

Chipps’ Statement

Mr. J.A. le Grange, Additional Magistrate, said that on November 11, Willie Chipps came to him and made a statement freely and voluntarily. Chips said that he wanted to make the statement “to make my heart clean.”

The statement which Mr. le Grange read out contained similar allegations to those in the questions put to Miss Carsten by Chipps at the previous hearing of the case on November 18. They were that Miss Carsten had offered him £500 to kill Jansen as she wanted to marry Mr. Cyril Paton “who was richer than Mr. Jansen,” and that she wanted Jansen’s wealth.

Chipps also alleged that Miss Carsten opened the kitchen door for him at midnight on October 2 and told him to go to Jansen’s room. Chipps said that Miss Carsten told him after he had killed Jansen, he was to hit her to mislead the police, and that he was to run away when she would scream.

He said that after he had hit Jansen with the axe, he went to Miss Carsten’s room and struck her on the head and leg and ran away. “The three men who were caught with me are innocent. I am the man who committed the crime.” He told Mr. le Grange. “I came to speak the truth, and I have spoken the truth. The missus is the cause of the trouble. I have admitted my sins before God, the Lord, and you, sir.

Doctor’s Evidence

The witness, Dr. Robert Grieve, said that he attended to Jansen and Miss Carsten at the Provincial Hospital early on October 3. Jansen had two wounds on the side of the head, a badly bruised left eye and a broken nose.  At 5 a.m. he and Mr. Stewart, a specialist surgeon, operated on Jansen and they found that the skull had been fractured in two places – the two areas being circular in shape and about two inches in diameter.

“I would be very surprised to learn that the two wounds were inflicted with the axe produced in Court. The two penetrating holes on the skull required a lot of force, and if one had used that force with an instrument of the weight of that produced, it would have gone right through the skull. Also, the shape of the back of the axe is not the shape of the two wounds.”

It would be most unlikely that the sharp edge of the axe had been used because that would have split the skull open.

Knobkerrie

“I am of the opinion that the wounds were caused by a comparatively light instrument – such as a knobkerrie,” he said. When he examined Miss Carstens, he found two scalp wounds – 1¾ and 1½ inches long. Both the wounds exposed the skull but did not fracture it. She also had a large bruise behind the left leg which had the outline of a shoe. Miss Carsten also had a bruise on the left arm which resembled finger marks, and a bruise on the right hand. He considered her head wounds to be of a serious nature.

A Coloured man. Frank Alberts, said that he had worked for Jansen for about three years. He was a good master. On the night that Jansen was attacked, a number of men were playing cards, during which Piet Block left but Jan Block remained.

Rudolf Williams, an employee at the café, told the Court that on the Saturday, Pieter Block came to the café and had a shopping bag in his possession. He left and returned the next day and played cards with them in the hall. He, Williams, stopped playing cards at about midnight and went to bed. He was awakened between four and five o’clock in the morning by the morning by the police and saw Jan Block, who shared his room, in bed.

“We Will See”

On September 30, Jan Block came into witnesses’ room and sat on his bed and said: “You will see what is going to happen?” William said he asked him what he meant and Block said: “We will see.” Jansen had given Jan Block notice to leave. In reply to Block, Williams said that he did not know that Block had told Jansen that the work he had to do was too heavy.

Kept awake

Katie Grootboom, Williams’ wife, said that she and her husband shared their room with Jan Block. She was in the room when the men were gambling. Rudolph came to bed at about midnight and the others continued gambling until about 1.30 a.m. Jan Block only came to bed some time after the card game broke up. She had been kept awake by her baby.

When Jan Block came in he told her to extinguish the candle and appeared in a hurry to get to bed. The Police arrived soon afterwards and Block and not been to sleep. She was present when Jan Block told her husband “you will see what will happen.”

The hearing was adjourned to December 3.

 

h.    The Herald: Evidence of Story Told in Gaol

Piet Block and Bos Jantjies, two Coloured men who shared the same cell with Willie Chipps, who is appearing at the preparatory examination into an allegation of the murder of J.J. Jansen, said at the Law Courts yesterday that Willie told them that the “missus” offered him £250 to kill the “baas” with an axe while he was asleep in bed, they declared. Asked who Willie Chips meant by the “missus,” Piet Block said “Miss Patsie.”

Jansen and his step daughter, Miss Patricia Carsten, were assaulted on night of April 2, 1949, at Jansen’s café at Schoenmaker’s Kop – the Ocean View Tea Lounge. Jansen died later in hospital.

When the preparatory examination opened in November last, Willie Chipps and three other Coloured men, Piet Block (24), Jan Block (22) and Frank Baartman (19) appeared on the charge. At the close of the inquiry, Piet and Frank were discharged, while the other two were committed for trial. Jan Block was discharged on Monday when the examination was reopened on instructions from the Solicitor General.

Confessed

Willie Chips confessed that he had murdered Jansen. He made this statement when the examination closed in December last. Willie Chipps, Jan Block, Frank Baartman and he were in a cell at the North End Gaol one evening in November, Piet Block told the magistrate. Also locked up with them were Boet Tielas, Bos Jantjies and two Natives, Harrison Nkosenkulu and Joseph Kumalo.

Piet Block said that Willie Chips started to talk about the case that evening. “When Boet Tielas asked him why he had murdered the baas, Willie replied that the missus had bought him for £250 to kill the baas.” Said Piet Block. He continued: “Willie told me that he went to the café on a Thursday. When the missus saw him, she asked him to do a favour for her.

“Willie told me that the missus suggested that he should kill the baas for her, and that if he did, she would give him £250. Willie asked her how he was going to do that, and she replied that she would make a plan. She would put a mackintosh under the asbestos slabs in the yard, and he had to wait a little.

Nodded at her

“Willie then told me that he came to the café on Sunday night, went to the window, and saw that the light was burning. He found the mackintosh. Willie said that he climbed through a window, first went to the children’s room, and then to the missus’ room, where he lifted the cap from his eyes, and nodded at her.”

“Willie then told me that the missus said that he must hit her lightly so that people would not notice. The missus told Willie that she would give him the money when everything was done. He then went to the baas’ room. Willie said that he stood there for a while, and when it seemed that the baas was going to wake up, he hit him three blows with the axe he had with him. He then went to the missus’ room and hit her lightly on her head and back, and went out of the door, which, so Willie told him, she had left open for him.

Guilty one

Bos Jantjies gave a similar account of the conversation in the cell. Bos and Piet told Mr. Marker that Willie stated that he alone was the guilty one. At the end of yesterday’s hearing, Willie Chipps sat quietly crying in the dock. He had nothing to ask Bos or Piet.

The examination will be resumed on March 3, when prisoners from East London gaol will give evidence of Willie’s statements in the North End gaol.

 

i.      Evening Post: Said he Killed but he is Free

Willie Chipps, aged 21, awoke in Port Elizabeth this morning a free man, although he had confessed to murder.

Yesterday Chipps, a Coloured man, was on trial for his life – accused of killing Mr. Johannes Jacobus Jansen in a Schoenmakerskop café on the night of October 2. For eight months, Willie Chipps has been lying in the North End Gaol. Today he is walking the streets of Port Elizabeth.

On November 11, Willie confessed to an Assistant Magistrate, Mr. J.A. le Grange, that he had murdered Mr. Jansen and that Mr. Jansen’s stepdaughter had offered him money to do so. “She said that she wanted his wealth and wanted to marry Mr. Paton,” Chipps said.

j.      The Herald: Alleged Jail Confession

Murder Enquiry Evidence

A Native hard-labour prisoner gave evidence in the Magistrate’s Court here today of an alleged confession of murder which, he said, was made to him in a prison cell. He was giving evidence at the preparatory examination on an allegation of murder at which Willie Chipps (22), a Coloured man, is appearing.

It is alleged that Mr. J.J. Jansen and his step-daughter, Miss Carsten, were assaulted on the night of April 2, 1949, at a café at Schoenmakerskop, and that Mr. Jansen died of his injuries.

“Would Plead Guilty”

Boet Tilas, the prisoner, told the Court that Chips had confessed to the murder and had said: “I am going to plead guilty because I cannot keep a filthy thing in my heart.” He had said that he would plead guilty and let the other men appearing with him be released because he alone had killed Mr. Jansen.

Tilas alleged that Chips had told him he killed Mr. Jansen at the request of a White woman who promised him £150. According to Tilas, Chipps told him the arrangement was that he was to kill Mr. Jansen but only strike the woman without hurting her.

Chipps was committed for trial on a charge of murder.

k.    Argus: Acquitted of Murder – now Killed

Willie Chipps, a 23-year-old Coloured man, who was acquitted last year of the murder of Mr. Johannes Jacobus Jansen, a café proprietor was shot dead on a farm between Walmer and Mount Pleasant.

 

The police have detained a European who is said to have been hunting with Chipps and a party of other men. A rifle was found on the farm.

 

Made Statement

Chipps was one of four non-European who appeared at a preparatory examination of an allegation of murder in 1949 – after Mr. Jansen was found in a room at his café battered to death.

During the examination, Chipps made a statement to a magistrate saying that he had killed Mr. Jansen because he had been offered £500 by a woman. The woman denied the allegation. Later Chipps was committed for trial alone. The judge held that there was not sufficient evidence to convict him.

l.      Unknown newspaper: Coloured man shot – European held

Willie Chipps, a 23-year-old Coloured man who was acquitted last tear of the murder of Mr. Johannes Jacobus Jansen, a café proprietor of Schoenmakerskop, was shot dead on a farm midway between Walmer and Mount Pleasant during the week-end.

The police have detained a European who was said to have been with Chipps and a party of other men on a hunting expedition on the farm and have taken possession of a rifle found in the vicinity.

 


2 Comments

  1. Hello, Dean
    As a layman, I have enjoyed reading up and acquiring books on the Cape, Joburg, Pretoria, Bloem and Kimberley. This is a very recent, and very enjoyable journey! Needless to say, the east coast is under scrutiny, too. I have flicked through the The Casual Observer page and I can see I should spend considerably more time here, seeing that there is a dearth of information about early Port Elizabeth in general, its people, architecture and streetscapes. I have been doing some checking on Margaret Harradine and her two books and have written the relevant societies in PE with a view to obtaining the right book for me, which it seems is Hills Covered with Cottages. Which do you recommend? My preference is for the old photographs with explanatory text, in particular covering the key buildings. Hopefully I can source a book or two new.
    Enough of that! I have enjoyed reading your articles. So, I will be camping on this site for a while!

    Thanks for taking the time to write these most interesting stories about PE.

    Reply

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