A former Australian resident living in South Africa has been brutally murdered by a gang of armed robbers who stabbed her at least a dozen times and slit her throat — just to steal two laptops and a mobile phone.
Renowned psychologist Dr Mirah Wilks, 69, was ambushed inside her Johannesburg home on Sunday after her retired husband Frank, 72, left to worship at the local synagogue, the Daily Mail reports.
The gang waited for Mr Wilks to leave before entering the home by climbing onto the roof and removing tiles to get around security doors and windows. Dr Wilks was found lying dead on the floor by her husband of 45 years when he returned from evening worship.
Dr Wilks was born in Israel and moved to Australia as a young girl, according to the publication. The couple had a daughter Tarryn and son Brett in Melbourne before moving to South Africa.
The former art teacher-turned psychologist specialised in hate crime and violence in South Africa and had recently begun research into “resilience as a means of adaptation and survival”, with a focus on the country’s LGBT community.
Dr Wilks at least 12 times in the chest and back and then cut her throat. South African police have now launched a major manhunt to find the gang.
“A case of murder is being investigated and the post-mortem will determine the exact cause of death, but a sharp object was used,” police spokesman Colonel Lungelo Dlamini told the publication. “It was used in the fatal assault on the victim who was found by her husband when her returned home from church, and we are appealing for witnesses to come forward.”
In a statement, the Psychological Society of South Africa said Dr Wilks’ violent murder “has left us with a deep sense of loss”.
“Mirah was known to a great many of her colleagues in the psychology fraternity, and the communities she served with distinction, as someone who in the Jewish culture is referred to as ‘a mensch’,” the statement said.
“It is probably one of the greatest honours to be called a mensch — a good soul, a person with integrity and honour, kind and considerate, someone who always treats others with the utmost respect and dignity, someone who is admired and emulated. Indeed, Mirah was well respected and much loved and these memories of her will stay with us.”
A funeral service for the grandmother was held on Monday.
South African police and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have been contacted for comment.