Eastern Cape police have been given 72 hours to find three unidentified men who are alleged to have killed Eastern Cape farmer John Viedge, while Agri Eastern Cape has called on the farming community to become gun owners to protect themselves.
Viedge was shot dead in front of his wife Colleen on their Highlands Farm in the early hours of Sunday.
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga expressed shock and dismay over the 79-year-old’s murder.
Ntshinga assembled a team of investigators and gave them three days in which to arrest Viedge’s killers.
She said the suspect entered Viedge’s home through the window and shot him in front of his wife.
Ntshinga said: “It is not clear what they were looking for, but a house robbery is suspected. Nothing seems to have been stolen at the moment.”
The commissioner condemned the attack and described it as “daring and lacking heart” on the part of those who committed the murder.
Ntshinga visited Viedge’s widow on Sunday and vowed to find the killers “alive to answer for their actions”.
Viedge’s widow was too distraught to speak to the media, said provincial farming union Agri Eastern Cape.
The farm is situated outside Nqanqarhu, formerly Maclear.
Ntshinga said she had ordered a 72-hour activation plan to mobilise all the relevant resources for effective investigations and possible arrest of the suspects.
Firearms for self-defence
Agri Eastern Cape said the senseless killing was an indication that the gazetted Draft Amendments to the Firearm Control Act, which sought to make self-defence an invalid reason to own a firearm, should be rejected.
The body’s rural safety manager Jason Kümm said the organisation strongly condemned the incident.
Kümm said: “This unfortunate and unnecessary event has further highlighted the need for our rural community members to own firearms for self-defence. This glaringly exposes an obvious lack of understanding and empathy for not only the farmers, but all rural community members by the SAPS who wish to remove the last line of defence from the law-abiding citizens of this country through the Gazetted Draft Amendments to the Firearm Control Act.”
Gun owners, and prospective gun owners, had 44 days left to comment on the proposal.
Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern said the organisation would comment on the draft proposals and explain why it felt some of the amendments proposed were irrational and displayed a complete misunderstanding of the real safety and security issues rural communities faced.
Eastern Cape community safety department spokesperson Unathi Binqose said the debate was contentious.
Binqose said: “We are also losing too many people to guns through domestic violence where one may argue that if the firearm was not easily and readily available, maybe we would not have fatalities out of those domestic arguments. Let us leave it to the public to decide what is best for them. ”
Stern said the firearm debate comes while official police statistics recently released, showed an increase in the murder rate by 8.4% and attempted murders up by 8.7%.
Agri Eastern Cape called on the police to implement the Rural Safety Strategy and to do more to protect rural communities throughout the Eastern Cape and South Africa.
Anyone with information that can lead to the culprits’ arrest is requested to please call Maclear Police Station or the Crime Stop Number 086 00 10111.