Farm attack suspects shot dead in KZN

A 84-year-old man was killed after a group of men ambushed him and his wife on a cottage located on their children’s farm.

A spate of house robberies in the Bishopstowe, Wartburg, New Hanover and Dalton areas in the past months recently claimed an 84-year-old man’s life.

According to the owner of Magma Security and Investigation Shaheen Suleiman, a couple (aged 80 and 84, respectively) were brutally tortured, tied up and gagged at a cottage located on their children’s farm in the Seven Oaks area near Greytown, north of Pietermaritzburg last week.

Freddie van Tonder from KwaNalu Security Desk, who also attended the scene, said according to the woman, three men broke through the front door in the early hours and more people entered their home and attacked them.

“The woman managed to get help from her children after the men had fled the cottage. It is suspected that the man was suffocated.”

A TV, jewellery and other items were taken.

Gang followed to another robbery

In the early hours of Tuesday, Suleiman said through their investigations, they followed up on the information they had received about a group of men who were on their way to Bulwer to allegedly commit another robbery.

The group was allegedly involved in the deadly attack on the couple in Greytown.

Suleiman said they worked with the team from the Pietermaritzburg SAPS K9 Unit and the Pietermaritzburg Trio Task Team to make an arrest.

“The suspects travelling in two vehicles were spotted in the Boston area travelling towards Impendle. After a brief chase a shootout with the members took place. As a result, two suspects were shot dead and six were arrested.”

He added that a firearm, knives, crowbar, cellphones, gloves and balaclava found on the men were recovered and handed over to the police. Suleiman said items that were taken at the farm were also recovered.

Several farm attacks in the Greytown area

Chairperson of uMzinyathi Farmers Association Herman de Wet said there have been a number of farm attacks in the Greytown area and they were concerned with the festive season approaching.

De Wet said the other cause of these attacks was unemployment and farmers were being attacked as soft targets.

De Wet said on average, detectives in South Africa have 100 dockets to work on making it difficult to make arrests. He added the DNA backlog for samples taken at a crime scene is also an issue.

“The same criminals carry on murdering people and committing more crime because there is no system in place to stop them. We also have a negative growth in the police service with detectives resigning and others going on pension, which is a concern.”

He said the minister of police has been speaking about the rural safety plan for three years yet nothing has happened.

He added that the farmers were prepared to assist the police but the plan has not been rolled out.

“People in rural communities are tired of reporting crime and nothing gets done. We are suffering with the farm attacks and they also suffer in the rural areas. They said the police don’t investigate or attend crime scenes when they phone.”

Farm murders an ongoing problem

Lizette Lancaster from the Institute for Security Studies said farm killings were not only a problem when there’s an increase in incidents but were an ongoing problem with a huge impact.

She said after the death of a farmer, some families sell the farms and workers suffer.

“There’s also an economic impact and threat to food production. There is also a wider economic impact because the farming community in many instances are the main source of economic activity in more remote rural areas. If one farmer is taken out of that production that has a huge impact,” said Lancaster.

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