The murder of three-year-old twins Maximo and Octavia Deus Yela, allegedly at the hands of their Spanish father, has shocked the Hout Bay community.
On Monday April 10, Barcelona dentist Mario-Cesar Deus Yela, 48, was charged in absentia with the double-murder in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court. The accused is currently under police guard at Victoria Hospital recovering from injuries.
There is widespread speculation that he attempted suicide in police cells following his arrest for the murders on Thursday April 6.
The twins’ mother and Mr Deus Yela’s ex-wife Julia Engelhorn, a Swiss national who moved to Cape Town in 2012, discovered their bodies after arriving at his holiday home at the Princess Beach complex in Princess Street on Thursday.
The children had visited him in Spain from December to January, and he was spending three weeks with them in South Africa over the Easter holidays.
The couple divorced in 2015, and Mr Deus Yela was exercising visitation rights.
It is alleged that after Ms Engelhorn’s arrival, he took her vehicle and attempted to flee. He was later arrested in Wynberg, said police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut.
Although the results of a post-mortem are yet to be made public, it is believed the twins were strangled to death.
A resident of the Princess Beach complex, who asked not to be named, said her children were friends with the couple’s oldest child, who was with his mother at the time.
“My child was actually there the night before the whole thing happened. I met him (Mr Deus Yela) for the first time that night, and I didn’t really know him. I was told other children in the complex often played there, so I told my child to go for a little bit and come back later,” the neighbour said.
“To hear the story the next day was the most shocking thing I’ve ever had to go through. I had to sit down and tell my child that he couldn’t go to his friend’s house today because of what had happened. It is the worst thing to have to chat to your child about. But it is a big warning to our kids that this is why parents tell them not to talk to strangers, or go into strange homes. It is a major, major shock.”
The neighbour said her child had told her the twins’ father was always very kind to them, giving them sweets.
“We were initially extremely worried where the eldest child was, as all the initial reports talked about twins. It is just so sad. My son is taking it very hard.”