Crime Busters of SA: farm murders 2001-2003
Solidarity trade union: - list of farm murders
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- A Stuijt
- Retired South African medical journalist, ex-Sunday Times of Johannesburg.
NELSPRUIT. Willem Pelser of Rapport Afrikaans-language Sunday newspaper writes that the number of armed attacks against white farmers and smallholders are ‘lower than in previous years’ – because rural communities and agricultural organisations have started their own self-protection units after former Pres. Thabo Mbeki suddenly disbanded the rural commando units unilaterally, leaving a huge security gap in its wake. The way in which these Afrikaner farmers and smallholders are dying at the hands of armed, black attackers is described here.
“Good news”: 32 murders in 184 farm attacks in first three months of 2009…
The SA police statistics haven’t been officially updated since the end of 2007, however the agricultural community ‘s own records indicate that in the first three months of 2009, there were 32 murders during 184 farm attacks on South African farms and smallholdings.
If this ‘positive’ trend continues, there would be “only” 750 farm attacks and “only” 120 murders this year… that’s still ten murders a month.
However, this is cause for optimism as far as these hardy rural dwellers are concerned: for instance, at the height of the terror in 2001, carried out by large, armed black male militias, 147 farmers were murdered in 1,011 attacks.
The drop in death-rates certainly is good news according to the Transvaal Agricultural Union’s security chief Henry Geldenhuys, who says that the farmers’ stepped up self-defence mechanisms are now bearing fruit, “with less farm attacks and less deaths than in previous years.”
As an example of the farmers’ own security-successes, he cites the recent incident at Soutpan near Brandfort in the Free State, where 84-year-old farm wife Mrs Katrina Fourie was brutally attacked .The local farm-security unit chased the attackers down and turned them over to the police.
Farmers and smallholders forced to do their own policing:
The Democratic Alliance spokesman for agriculture, Lourie Bosman, said farmers and smallholders were forced to start doing their own policing and forced to create and pay for their own own security systems because the government’s policing and security systems were ineffective after the rural military’s volunteer-commandos were disbanded. “This placed the responsibility for their own security on the agricultural communities themselves’, said Bosman. Agri-SA started the Agri Securitas Trust Fund to help finance rural security systems, he said.
Agri-SA’s head of security André Botha, said there ‘are areas where crime has increased after the commandos were disbanded, but in other areas such as Heidelberg the ex-commandos started working with the police and crime dropped by 90%. “
It’s very difficult to verify these statistics officially: the SA Police Service hasn’t updated its published crime statistics since the end of 2007. http://jv.news24.com/Rapport/Suid-Afrika/0,,752-2460_2549731,00.html
Smallholders of Cullinan pay taxes just like everybody else – but still have to patrol their own areas -- and pay private security companies to keep their families safe…
Insp. Renier Beukes, left, chairman of a Cullinan community-policing forum, and businessman-farmer Piet van Dyk of the Jakkalsdans smallholdings region of Cullinan. Picture: Cornél van Heerden, Rapport newspaper
“Every family accepts responsibility for their own security and that of the community, says smallholder C D van Reenen, interviewed by Marenet Jordaan of Rapport newspaper. Its this ‘good-neighbour policy’which is beginning to make a difference to the safety of the entire community, she writes.
Four years ago, there was ‘intense anger’ among the smallholders because of the ‘terrifying crime’, according to Dr Breytie Breytenbach, another smallholder and pensioner. “From these events, the community-security action was born, and we now are more than 300 families strong. We have become a community which knows each other and each other’s telephone numbers,’ he told Rapport.
Most people have two-way radios which are tested each night – they are used to exchange information about ‘suspect people or vehicles and to raise crime alarms.’ In other words – these smallholders spend all their free time doing the jobs which should be done by the police -- i.e. patrolling their smallholdings. Besides their usual taxes to the state, these smallholders also pay a private security company, in this case Conserv, to transmit their community alerts via SMS to a central control room. And they are patrolling the area ‘as effectively as possible.’
“Our main goal is to save lives, not to catch culprits,’ said Van Reenen. Another smallholder Kokkie Kruger said ‘many people don’t even have firearms but will still go out to help a neighbour in trouble. ‘
Breytenbach says they now feel ‘empowered’ and no longer feel like ‘victims’ – and they are definitely experiencing a drop in crime in their area. This was happily confirmed by police sergeant Marinda Stoltz of the Boschkop police station – but she didn’t provide statistics.
Van Reenen says his wife felt less safe in the city than she does at the smallholdings now. “If she gets on the radio there’s a horde of neighbours rushing to help,’ he said. “
The Jakkalsdans smallholdings near Cullinan also showed the same trend, with 150 farmers headed by colonel Paul van Rensburg, chairman of Agri-Cullinan, forming a security network. Their main problem: arson of their land, and cable-thefts. The 150 families are in touch by radio with one another and take turns patrolling at night and in the daytime. Their reports are sent to the community-policing forum ‘s central post which is manned 24/7.
The chairman of the Jakkalsdans branch, inspector Renier Beukes, vsays they arrange patrols according to the events on the field. “When we had a problem with breakins at Leeukloof, we pushed our forum vehicles into that area. The patrols are undertaken to identify the culprits, he said – and they are mostly unarmed. Of the forum members who patrol have received basic emergency medical training to help at the scene of a crime or accident, and some had training as police reservists. They are trained to bar off the scene of a crime so that no forensic evidence would be lost. Beukes said their patrol was the first on the scene last Tuesday to close the road after an attempted cash-in-transit robbery on the Moloto Road.
Cullinan police station’s spokesman Johannes Jaftha confirmed that ‘the community’s involvement has definitely helped to bring down the crime rates. But again – he provided no statistics to back up his statement.
’ Farm owners are also encouraged to involve the workers in their security measures. “They are on the smallholdings 90% of their time and could provide information about suspect vehicles and people,” said Jaftha.
Below are some of the recent and very ferocious murders on smallholdings – and the mystery disappearance of a German businessman:
JEFFREY’S BAY, East Cape – August 28 2009 -- The Cape Times writes that police are baffled by the disappearance of a well-known German immigrant, Jeffrey's Bay businessman Claus Schroeder, 50 of Schroeder’s Motor Homes, last seen two weeks ago on a Thornhill farm.
The skillful German motorhome builder disappeared after he’d delivered a modified Hummer to a nearby farm on Friday morning two weeks ago.
He called his wife Tanja shortly before the delivery and planned to meet her in Port Elizabeth that afternoon.
Police spokeswoman Gerda Swart said he was “seen getting into a black Golf, not owned by him,” but would not give more details. Schroeder has not been seen since. Family friend Louisa Lightfoot told the Cape Times on Thursday that Tanja did not want to speak to the media: "She is really battling. Tanja can't talk about her feelings. But she is determined to find him," said Lightfoot. The couple reportedly were happily married and had no marital strife. They have two children.
Respected in Germany:
Schroeder, designer and qualified master of joinery, boasts more than 25 years of international experience in the design and manufacturing of custom-made motorhomes and is well known and respected in Germany for building some of the finest and most technologically advanced motorhomes in the European market. His wife Tanja, in her capacity as administrative head and a professional MBA, governs this business and manages all administration work. They have two sons, aged 13 and 21. In January 2000 the Schroeder family moved to the coastal town of Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Province of Southern Africa – near the world-famous beach with the longest-lasting surfing wave as featured in the cult surfing movie Endless Summer – and where the Schroeders have since established a reputation as the most dynamic manufacturers of distinctively designed motorhomes in Southern Africa. contact: http://www.schroeder.co.za/ 27 42 293 4110 (Tel) +27 42 293 4120 (Fax) - email@example.com
The SA Police are following several leads in the case and have requested that anybody who saw Claus Schroeder or any of the vehicles, particularly the pink motor home pictured above, between Friday 14 August and Monday 17 August to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Tanja Schroeder on 079 299 8087 or Inspector Viljoen in Jeffreys Bay on 082 576 2137 or 082 441 8160
20090825 Gerhardus Hermie Cloete, 47, found torched near Dikholo wildlife reserve, Brits/Jericho
August 27 2009 – BRITS. Linda de Beer reports in Beeld newspaper that police are puzzled about the circumstances surrounding the death of Gerhardus Hermie Cloete, 47, whose half-naked, torched body was found in the veldt between Jericho and the Dikhololo wildlife reserve near Brits. Police inspector Wilmarie van der Merwe said Cloete’s hands and feet were tied with shoelaces. He was reported missing last Thursday after police found his abandoned Nissan Almera about 10km outside Jericho. The rear window was broken, blood was found on the rear seat, and the car’s front and rear buffers were found near the body – about 4km from the car, said Van der Merwe. Cloete’s trousers were torched and his upperbody was unclothed. No further details were published about Mr Cloete’s background. http://www.beeld.com/Content/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/1928/529ec966613542f3981e81dd2715b1aa/27-08-2009%2010-08/Polisie_wonder_oor_lyk_in_veld
PRETORIA NORTH – An 65-year-old granddad who was a long-time sufferer of a heart condition, Wilhelm Lotterie, was humiliated, beaten and bludgeoned to death in front of daughter-in-law Jessica, 23, and her infant son, Wilhelm’s newborn grandson Danté -- after his two adult sons were lured from their homestead when a large armed gang of blacks had torched the veldt.
Pictured left by Beeld journalist Theana Calitz are a deeply traumatised Piet and Jessica, speaking about their ordeal.
Police captain Jan Sepato said the two Lotterie sons were dousing the fire when the old man, who was sitting on the porch, was forced at gunpoint to lie down on the living room floor, where he was hogtied – and his pants were also pulled down to below his knees to humiliate him even further in front of his daughter-in-law. Mrs Lotterie had to watch helplessly as they bludgeoned the old man with a pistol and kicked him while he was lying defencelessly on the floor. When the brothers returned from dousing the fire, they were ambushed by the killers, and tied up in the toilet and bathroom. The armed gang took meat from the freezer, as well as cash, electronics, cellphones and the family’s old Ford Fiesta, reg. WHF052GP. Neighbour Jan Vermaak, who lives about a kilometer from the Lotterie homestead, said he’d helped them douse the veldt fire and was just washing himself when he heard the screaming. He sent his sons with flashlights to go and take a look – and the boys returned to report that a woman was screaming loudly. He found the distraught Jessica holding her newborn standing in the dirt road with husband Piet. They were all in shock and Vermaak said he took them back to his own home. He then helped organised a search party with the homesteaders in the area to try and find the robber gang – but they were long-gone by then. Of course the police have arrested no-one. http://www.beeld.com/Content/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/1928/8688f56172b5425aab53220ea92701af/26-08-2009%2012-08/Rowers_skop,_slaan_man_dood
20090817 Tracey-Leigh Frankish, 33 mom, killed at Farmall AH, Fourways Johannesburg http://www.newsvibe.co.za/external.php?node=135471
A cheap TV set, hi-fi and a small amount of money were the only things stolen from the murdered 33-year-old Gauteng sales representative’s cottage in Farmall, an agricultural holding north of Fourways. She worked at the food manufacturing company Ma Baker.
Johan Burger, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, who last year co-authored a report on crime and public security in South Africa, said the murder highlighted how political promises had not been kept as far as the eradication of farm attacks was concerned.
“The conclusion we came to in our report was that there was a vacuum [in crime-fighting regarding] rural safety.” Burger said this was a result of the phasing out of South African National Defence Force units, or commandos, deployed specifically to patrol rural areas in South Africa since 2003.
- “[The phasing out] was not supposed to happen until sector policing, police reservists and crime-combating units were in place. In almost all [rural areas] we visited in our research, none of this had been done,” Burger added.
Frankish’s murder means that her seven-year-old son, Taidg, will grow up without a mother. The break-in happened in the early hours of Sunday morning, when Taidg was with his grandparents, Fred and Helen Britz, at their Bryanston home. “We’ve told him what happened, but I don’t think he realises what death is all about,” Fred Britz said. “He said: ‘They’ve killed my mom, they shot her’. It’s tough, the circumstances of her death. We never thought it would happen to us.”
Husband lives in UK
Frankish, who was in the process of divorcing her husband, who lives in the UK, had been leasing a cottage on a plot.
Private security company RSS Security responded to a panic signal followed by an alarm signal at 12.47pm. A security officer who arrived at the premises six minutes later found the security gate on the front door had been forced open.
Frankish was found kneeling in front of her bed, with a gunshot wound in the head.
- “When the (private) security officer went outside to radio for medical back-up he saw three suspects fleeing into the bushes and gave chase,” said RSS Security managing director Sean Mooney. The unidentified men got away.
Dion Stephens, a school friend, told The Times that Frankish had been a humanitarian. “She wanted to fix the world we live in, quit her job, teach people how to grow vegetables and live a self-sustainable life. The people she wanted to help were the people who murdered her,” he said. Friends have been posting messages on Frankish’s Facebook page, where Stephens asked people to honour her memory by wearing purple or turquoise, “her favourite colours”, to her memorial service. Dean Dawson, of food manufacturing company Ma Baker, where Frankish worked, said staff were distraught at her murder. “It feels surreal. It’s disturbing. She was a flower-power child, if I can put it that way, friendly to everybody.”
Murder blamed on victim by cop: ‘the door was left unlocked…’
Douglasdale police spokesman Inspector Balan Muthan confirmed a murder case was under investigation – and blamed the murder on the victim: “There are no suspects. The front door was left unlocked. Police and the security firm reacted within minutes, but the suspects had fled and the area is so dark at night,” Muthan said. http://www.newsvibe.co.za/external.php?node=135471
Lauren Cohen also reported on August 20 2009 in The Times of Johannesburg that in the wake of Farmall resident Tracey-Leigh Frankish’s murder, the northern Johannesburg community had been living in fear of “marauding gangs”. Jerry de Beer, who lives on a plot not far from where burglars shot and killed Frankish, 33, last weekend, told The Times that the single mother’s murder was the second in the area in just two weeks. “Marius Labuschagne, living on a plot in a caravan, was murdered on August 1. Only his cellphone was taken,” De Beer said. “Residents are living in absolute fear every night as the marauding gangs go about their deeds unhindered,” he said. De Beer has been keeping track of crime in his area and his records show that there have been nine armed robberies and 27 burglaries in the area this year alone.
- “Barely half of the 114 plots in Farmall are occupied; residents are starting to abandon their properties out of fear and desperation.
“We have no means to protect ourselves — normal electric fences, beams and alarms are not a deterrent anymore.
“Even armed response when activated cannot guarantee that you will survive an attack from these ruthless, murdering thieves,” De Beer said.
And the police, he claims, are not pulling their weight because they have failed to investigate three armed robberies committed on his property alone. Balan Muthan, spokesman for the Douglasdale police, who are responsible for the area, said extra police officers and vehicles have now been brought in. “We have also stepped up the number of patrols and the mounted unit is coming in,” Muthan said. “The problem is that the plots are so big and there are many trees. If there are people hiding on the properties, you can’t see them.” http://www.thetimes.co.za/News/Article.aspx?id=1052518