Like many 14-year-olds, Connor Isaacs spent a lot of time drawing and playing games on his Xbox. An avid dinosaur lover, he promised his parents he would become a palaeontologist one day.
But his bright future was cut short when he was murdered in his bedroom during a home invasion more than five months ago.
The Grade 9 pupil had been at home in Bellville, Cape Town, because it was a school holiday.
It was only when his father Keith Eybers returned from work on March 27 that he found his lifeless body and realised why his son had not been answering his calls.
As his parents grieve and look for answers, police have yet to identify who killed him, forensics tests are still at the lab, and the trail is going cold.
This is just one of thousands of child murder cases across the country in which nothing is being done, according to private investigator Noel Pratten.
“All the forensics have been sitting at Plattekloof [laboratory] for five months. We don’t even have the fingerprints results,” he said.
“The police are crippled by insufficient budgets, woefully insufficient and slow forensic services and terrible manpower shortages. I don’t want to use the word ineffective because there are lots of good detectives. Some active support on this case from provincial and cluster command is what is needed here.”
‘I thought he would be safe’
Their home in Glenhaven – a middle-class suburb – had been standing empty for a while before Connor and his father moved in.
They lived together because his parents were separated.
Eybers worked long hours but would call his son every few hours to check on him.
He said everyone “spoke highly” of Connor, who was fairly quiet, well-behaved and never gave him any trouble.
“He was around at home and I thought he would be safe. I called about 10-ish [that morning] and there was no answer but it was nothing unusual because sometimes he just wouldn’t answer and he would be okay. I think I phoned twice after that.”
Eybers arrived at home at around 6.30pm and unlocked the front door and security gate. That was when he found his dead son.
He said Connor’s cellphone, laptop, tablet and Xbox were gone, as well as few of his own old cellphones and camera.
Pratten said there had been burglar bars on all windows, except for the bathroom window, which was well hidden.
Shock to the system
Criminals broke in through the window, strangled Connor and took his electronics without ransacking the rest of the house, he said.
“I was really in a state,” Eybers recalled. “I thought Connor had committed suicide at first because of the way they had found him. It was horrible and paramedics took a long time to arrive at the house.
“It’s the kind of thing that you always think happens to other people. It’s really a shock to the system.”
Eybers didn’t know what to make of the events that day but assumed the group must have tried to burgle the house when they found Connor.
“What puzzles me is that the house was standing empty for quite a while. They could have burgled the house then. I don’t understand.”
He said he phoned the investigating officer twice a week but often found it difficult to get hold of him.
“At one point, there was some activity on my son’s cellphone and he said [they were] trying to track the guy. But that led to a dead end.”
Desperate for answers, he hired Pratten.
Prioritise forensics in minor cases
Pratten said the way the burglary played out was suspicious and even pointed to a possible hit.
“When it comes to a minor, there needs to be a system where someone is able to run the forensics through on a priority basis. The top command, the generals and big dudes, need to be following these cases. We have a nationwide problem.”
Eybers said he felt bad to phone Connor’s mother to tell her there were no developments.
He clung onto some hope that police would still call him one day with a promising development.
Western Cape police did not respond to questions about why the forensics results were taking long or allegations that only some cases were prioritised.
Constable Sandiswa Belinda Saula confirmed that they were aware of the case.
“No suspects have been identified and the investigation still continues.”