Until dusk began to fall across the vast Kaross estate in Namibia, February 27 had been like any other summer Saturday.
Owned by British technology multi-millionaire Harvey Boulter, the estate covers 65 square miles of remote grassland and bush and has been described as ‘an absolute game paradise’, home to animals including lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and giraffes.
Boulter, 51, had spent the afternoon holding court at a spit-roast lamb barbecue in the shade of a camelthorn tree in the main compound – a sprawling complex with a four-bedroom guest house, eight chalets for estate staff, a large indoor dining hall and the businessman’s own home with private swimming pool.
Sitting on canvas loungers, shooting the breeze and drinking cans of lager were his guests: an American (whom the Mail has agreed not to name) and four members of the Van Wyk family who worked for Boulter.
Over the years, estate manager Gerhard, 54, his wife, Alta, also 54, their son Gerhard Jr and his new wife, Liani, both 25, had become close friends with their employer.
Until about 7.30pm, witnesses agree, everything seemed peaceful. ‘Super calm,’ Boulter says in his first public utterance on the tragedy that would later unfold.
‘A group of friends hanging out and talking the usual bull****. I don’t know what went wrong, what started it, and I ask myself that question 10,000 times every day.’
The details of what followed are hotly disputed but could result in Boulter being jailed for life for the murder of his estate manager Gerhard van Wyk Sr, a South African Army veteran.
It has been reported that there was a row over an ‘indecent proposal’ allegedly made by Boulter to a female guest – more of which later.
Van Wyk sustained a gunshot wound to his abdomen and died en route to the regional hospital more than 100 miles away.
The fatal shooting made news around the world. Boulter, whose fortune is rooted in a series of deals with the Ministry of Defence, is a well-known and controversial figure who has lived in Hong Kong, Dubai and the US.
For the media, there were intriguing elements, too, of the infamous 1941 murder in Kenya of the Earl of Erroll that shone a spotlight on the ‘White Mischief’ life of wealthy, philandering expats.
Released on bail last month after a hearing in the town of Outjo, 116 miles from his estate, Boulter – who had initially been jailed but was in hospital before his release – has made no statement until now.