Guesthouse murder sparks safety concerns

Patrick Johannes was murdered in his guest house in Lakeside.

The murder of Airbnb host Patrick Johannes, of Lakeside, has both horrified his community, and raised questions about safety for those using the online hospitality service.

Muizenberg police spokesman Captain Stephen Knapp said Mr Johannes, 59, died from multiple stab wounds in his Bunker Road home on Saturday morning.

Police have not commented on rumours that the attackers might have been guests Mr Johannes had previously asked to leave, because of unruly behaviour.

But, according to the police, there were two guests staying at the guest house at the time of the murder.

It’s believed they locked themselves in their rooms when they realised something was wrong, and not knowing whom to call, phoned their embassy for help.

“We can confirm that there were two foreign tourists at the guest house when the murder occurred. Muizenberg SAPS was contacted by the German embassy and alerted to the incident,” said Captain Knapp.

Kevin Southgate is a ward councillor, and Mr Johannes’s friend and neighbour. Writing on Facebook, he said: “Patrick Johannes, you will fondly be remembered for the many conversations and times we spent together,” he said.

“You were so real and forthright; always saying things just the way they are. Your commitment to humanity was unwavering to the very end. You always saw in people the opportunity to serve and add value. No one was ever cast aside. You had an opinion about everything and would defend it if you believed it was right.

“When you last visited two weeks ago, we spent hours chatting, and I never thought that that would be our last. We spoke about everything; even your huge heart operation that you survived and how that had strengthened your resolve to see those around you succeed. So much to say, but the heartache is too overwhelming. Rest well, my friend, until we meet again. You will indeed be sorely missed. Rest in peace.”

Mr Johannes had survived extensive heart surgery in May 2016 and had gone on to summit Mount Kilimanjaro.

He was also a regular at the Zandvlei park run and was remembered by people across his community as somebody who was warm, compassionate and put people first.

Auxiliary law-enforcement volunteer Eckardt Winks advised those in the hospitality industry to clearly display emergency numbers and information in guests’ rooms, in languages they could understand.

“Make sure that panic buttons are linked to armed response and that guests know what to push and when, and also make sure that your security company and neighbourhood watch know that the premises is used for short-term accommodation, so that it can be noted on the monitoring profile in the control room.”

In a statement, Muizenberg Lakeside Residents’ Association chairwoman Catherine Dillon said: “The heinous murder of Patrick Johannes in our beloved village has shocked all residents and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.”

An Airbnb host in Muizenberg Village, who did not want to be named but is known to the False Bay Echo, said because the industry was still new, it had its vulnerabilities. She said her latest guests booked for three people to stay at the Airbnb she runs, but when check-out happened, she watched seven people stream from the accommodation and squeeze into a tiny car outside. A growing number of Airbnb hosts were having some or, in rare cases, all of their goods stolen by guests.

“I heard that one host’s home was wiped out, R150 000 worth of goods stolen,” she said.

She said there was some security in that hosts could check the reviews and ratings by other hosts of people wanting to stay with them, but that only applied if there was a history.

The False Bay Echo could not reach Airbnb for comment by the time of going to print.

A phone call to the South African Airbnb number reached a representative named John who apologised and said he could not comment as the Echo did not have an Airbnb account. He suggested checking the website for safety options for hosts. An email to the website was redirected to a booking agency.

Captain Knapp asked anyone with information about Mr Johannes’s murder to call investigating officer Warrant Officer Ederich Ganz at 082 522 1809.