The Telegraph | Sam Marsden and Aislinn Laing:
Clinton De Menezes, who lived in Britain and had work exhibited in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, was murdered at a friend’s house in Durban two days after his first wedding anniversary.
Clinton De Menezes, 43, who lived and worked in Britain until July, was murdered on holiday in South Africa just days after celebrating his first wedding anniversary Photo: TIM STEWART
A world-renowned artist has been hailed a hero after robbers shot him dead as he went to a friend’s aid having first saved his wife and daughter.
Clinton De Menezes, 43, who lived and worked in Britain until July, was murdered on holiday in South Africa just days after celebrating his first wedding anniversary.
He was killed by gunmen who broke into the Durban home of his friend Simon Malpas, who had been his best man, by climbing onto a balcony in the early hours of New Year’s Eve.
Mr De Menezes made sure that his wife, Nicola Saward, and their daughter, Eva, seven, were safely locked in the bathroom.
Despite pleas not to put himself in further danger, he then returned to help his friend, who had tried to repel one of the men by hitting him with a plastic chair and was now struggling to keep a glass door into the house shut as the intruders attempted to get inside.
Mr Malpas recalled: “I was hanging on for dear life. Clinton must have come up behind me. I had no idea he was there and the next thing I hear a loud bang. I don’t know how they missed me. I was standing right in front of them.”
After emerging from the bathroom to find Mr De Menezes lying dead on the floor, Miss Saward closed his eyes, kissed him and thanked him for being a loving father and husband.
Eva, who had hidden in a laundry basket, also said goodbye to her father, according to Mr Malpas’s wife Amanda.
Mr Malpas described the contemporary artist as a “hero”, adding: “I’ve lost a magnificent friend.”
A mobile phone, laptop and handbag were allegedly stolen during the break-in. Four suspects have been arrested and charged with murder and house robbery.
South African police said they had recovered a 9mm pistol suspected of being used during the shooting.
Mr De Menezes, whose work was exhibited in galleries around the world, including New York’s prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art, was born in Johannesburg but moved to London in 2007 to further his career.
In 2011 he won a major commission to provide a large artwork entitled World Map for the Norman Foster-designed new headquarters of accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers on London’s South Bank.
He and his family lived in Hanwell, west London, until last summer, when they moved to Kenya so his wife could take up a new post with the oil and gas company Tullow.
Friends and colleagues in Britain spoke of their shock at the news and paid tribute to the “compassionate” and talented artist.
Antonio Capelao, who runs the Bicha Gallery in Fulham, west London, and had worked with Mr De Menezes since 2011, said it was tragic that he was murdered just as his career was taking off.
He said: “He was a very interesting guy, but he also was absolutely devoted to his family.
“When he told me they were moving to Nairobi I said, ‘why?’. But he said, ‘my family is going and my place is with my family.’ He had a very strong family bond. His daughter was always around and you could see they had a great relationship.”
Mr Capelao said Mr De Menezes’s work could “go down in history”, adding: “Sometimes there’s work that is very beautiful and interesting but it doesn’t appeal to everybody. He managed to do that but make it appeal to a broad audience.
“This is another tragic thing – his career was really taking off and his sales were amazing. His work was sitting in New York next to work by famous artists like the Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor.”
Friends held a candlelit vigil in Mr De Menezes’s memory at the Clocktower Café in Hanwell on Monday night.
Fiona Des Fontaine, the pastor who presided over the artist’s wedding to Miss Saward in December 2012, led his funeral in South Africa on Tuesday.
Describing him as a “really wonderful human being”, she wrote online: “I have seen the love these two had for one another.
“A year ago I had the privilege of being asked to preside over a wedding. Their excitement, their love for one another, their anticipation of what lay ahead was touching and precious.
“A year later, and it is a privilege to be asked to be a part of this funeral. Tears are flowing as I type this. This is not the way this was supposed to end. I know one thing: Clinton was loved, he is loved, and this is a love that will endure.”
The killing again highlighted the scale of South Africa’s violent crime problem. The province of KwaZulu-Natal, which includes Durban, has one of the highest crime rates in the country, with the number of murders increasing by 11 per cent last year.