Sedgefield was shocked to the core on Saturday 2 February when news broke of the murder of Noreen Hampson, a well-known Sedgefield resident of Marigold Street. In a scene fraught with violence that erupted in the normally quiet Marigold Street, it took huge efforts by Public Order Police and SAPS members armed with rifles and rubber bullets, as well as a number of the COP and Neighbourhood Watch volunteers to bring down and incarcerate the man who was responsible. He has been identified as Sean Kelly (50), also a Marigold Street resident.
The following is an account of the events as they unfolded according to witnesses who were on the scene.
It was just after 6 o’clock in the evening when the alarm was raised by a neighbour who first alerted the police and then the community policing team, saying that the lady at No. 16 Marigold was being attacked. The caller recognised the attacker as Sean Kelly.
The first responders (volunteers of the local community policing team who have requested that their names be withheld) got to the scene within five minutes and found the victim lying face down inside her property. SAPS had not yet arrived.
One of the team’s first aiders assessed her, quickly realising that although she was alive, her injuries were exceptionally serious. The Fire Department was immediately contacted via radio, with a request to urgently send their emergency first aid response vehicle and to call for an ambulance and SAPS to attend the scene urgently.
The response vehicle arrived and the medics began assessing the victim whilst the community policing volunteers proceeded to cordon off the area.
Then suddenly all hell broke loose.
Sean Kelly rushed out of his property and attacked one of the community policing team members who was parked nearby, striking him on the head with what was described as some sort of long shafted hammer. There was much shouting as chaos ensued, with two other volunteers running towards the attacker to try and ward him off.
Kelly retreated back into his home, only to reappear moments later, shouting a tirade of abuse and once again wielding his hammer. This time he made a rush for the medics who were still trying to assist the victim. When they fled in all directions he zoned in on one of the team, chasing him around the fire vehicle, before stopping to smash its windows and those of other vehicles.
According to witnesses, the man seemed determined to stop anyone from helping his victim. Being unarmed, they all had no choice but to retreat and watch him as he started pulling equipment out of the fire vehicle, still shouting and swearing.
Then SAPS arrived, but this did little to calm Kelly down. He stormed out and attacked another community policing volunteer who was sitting in his vehicle, striking him with several blows and smashing the car’s windscreen. He then made off back into his home.
The chaos continued unabated over the next hour as Kelly kept dashing in and out of his property, swinging several different weapons and attacking the vehicles of those on the scene.
As the public heard of the commotion, curiosity brought them out into their gardens, and frantic messages had to be sent out to WhatsApp groups, urging everyone to stay indoors.
“It really was a dangerously volatile situation,” one of the volunteers later said.
Meanwhile, an ER24 ambulance had arrived, but paramedics were unable to get to the victim as Kelly continued threatening harm and wielding his weapons. Eventually, SAPS fired warning shots, which sent him into hiding long enough for the paramedics to reach the victim. Unfortunately, she had already succumbed to her injuries.
The Public Order Police and several more SAPS members arrived at approximately 19:25, whilst Kelly was inside his house. Moments later he charged out onto the road, swinging yet another home-made weapon at the uniformed men. They opened fire with rubber bullets, hitting him several times. He dropped to his knees briefly, then stood up and retreated back inside.
But this time he was followed by the police – with riot shields to ward off his blows.
A short while later Kelly was brought out in handcuffs, loaded into a SAPS vehicle and taken off – his tirade of abusive language continued unabated, as it had throughout the ordeal.
What drove Kelly into perpetrating such a violent act is obviously a matter for the police and courts to investigate. However, the evidence gathered so far shows that the man’s behaviour pattern had become more and more aggressive in recent months, particularly in the last fortnight.
Indeed in the last edition of The EDGE we published a letter by a man who claimed he had been verbally abused by ‘an English-speaking white male’. Though his name hadn’t been mentioned in this letter, Kelly retaliated, arriving at The EDGE offices with a letter of response, handwritten and signed by himself. Even as he delivered it to a neighbouring office (The EDGE had not yet opened), he launched into a tirade of abusive language at the lady who he handed it to.
The letter itself was so full of rage, prejudice and threats of violence, that copies of it were sent to Sedgefield’s Community Orientated Policing (COP) to be put on record.
Meanwhile, a steady stream of people who had also been on the sharp end of Kelly’s verbal abuse began coming forward, and plans were put in place to use this information to get him investigated by SAPS, because those who had come into contact with him feared he might be dangerous.
But nobody could ever have imagined that his vicious verbal attacks could escalate to such violent physical levels so quickly.
When contacted, Community Orientated Policing (COP) Chairman Michael Simon said that due to the sensitivity of the case, they could not provide any official comment.
“We would, however, like to offer our sincere condolences to the Hampson family on behalf of all Sedgefield’s community policing organisations. We would thank the emergency services, including SAPS, the Fire Department, ER24 and Dr JC Venter for assisting on this tragic day,” he said.
According to a report from SAPS, Kelly appeared in the Knysna Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, 05 February 2019 on counts of Murder and Malicious Damage to Property. His bail hearing was set for 13 February, but Sedgefield’s Community Police Sub-Forum is gathering signatures on a petition to oppose any bail application he might make. They have left petitions for signature at La Piazza, Build It and The EDGE.