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.
Family weeps at Christmas -
- Her Facebook Commemorative site: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=227075942812&ref=mf
December 24 2009 DURBAN. The Christmas presents have been bought -- but the grieving family of slain Gamalakhe station commissioner Captain Michele Pitout is preparing for a bleak festive season. Her official funeral takes place from 10am Tuesday 29 December at Norwegain Settlers Church in Marburgh (near Port Shepstone). http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=227075942812&ref=mf
Pitout and her team from the station were in Tin Town in Gamalakhe, KZN last Wednesday to find suspects wanted for a housebreaking case at a Margate home.
However, at one of the houses, the situation became deadly when the suspects shot at police, leaving Pitout critically wounded with a shot to the head, Inspector Trevor Moodley shot in the shoulder and Detective Constable Grant Phelukhwayo in a serious condition.
Police said a man who fled the scene was caught in Port Shepstone about four hours after the shootout. He, and the four other men arrested, face charges of attempted murder, housebreaking and possession of unlicensed firearms. One suspect was shot dead.Insp Moodley was described as a hero as he raced his colleagues to the hospital. Pitout had fallen into a coma.
Whle initially optimistic that his wife would pull through, Pitout's husband, Ian, said the family had started to prepare for the worst the day before she died on Tuesday. "They haven't even spoken about celebrating Christmas, but the presents have already been bought," said Ian.
National Police Commissioner Bheke Cele visited the family yesterday and tried to console Pitout's two daughters, Madison, 4, and Robyn, 9 and her younger sister, Tamarin Brown. Michele's parents also flew down from Johannesburg to be with the family in Margate. "This was supposed to be a merry Christmas, but I don't know what else to say except to come and see you," said Cele. "The shooting of officers has to come to an end," he said.
“She didn’t deserve what happened’ – husband Ian
But Anne Brown, Michelle Pitout's mother, asked: "How do you do that when people don't care, how many other mothers and fathers are we going to take away?" However, Cele's reply of "that's an answer I don't have" did little to stem the flow of tears from the family who had gathered.
The two girls stayed close to the father, watching the commissioner speak about their mother after he heard from her colleagues about the person she was. Cele said he was told that Pitout “managed to transcend barriers as station commissioner of the Gamalakhe police station on the South Coast."She worked with the community and was loved by many," he said, adding that as an officer Pitout was part of his family.
Ian said his wife was the type of person who would not have shown any inch of animosity towards the community. "She would have gone back into Gamalakhe, she would not have stayed away because of the incident, she was an excellent mother and wife and friend who didn't deserve what happened," he told Cele.
She was an amazing bigger sister, in fact she was like a second mother and my best friend," said Tamarin Brown. Inspector Ian van Staaden, the other officer at the scene last week, said he had been off work since the incident. He explained that he needed time to get over the trauma of losing a colleague. "I actually think its time to stop," he said, as he has been in the field for 28 years.
Janet and Martin Stern, SA expats from Toronto, were tied up, thrown with rocks, beaten and then left behind, bleeding and injured; Fernkloof nature reserve, Hermanus
The Sterns had visited Hermanus annually for the past 10 years, but this year they found themselves pleading for their lives after being stabbed, stoned, bound and robbed. This was the fourth attack in two months at the Fernkloof reserve. The news of the latest attack hit the headlines in Canada today. http://www.cbc.ca/video/news/player.html?clipid=1367435107
The latest victims in a spate of violent attacks in the Hermanus mountains have told how they were stabbed, stoned, bound and robbed while hiking this week.
Martin, 59, and Janet, 57, Stern were left bruised and lacerated after the "completely senseless" attack on Tuesday morning.
A concerned hiker, Delia Scott, has offered a R1,000 reward for information about the attacks: "It is very close to our hearts because my husband and I often hike that route," she said.
'The next thing we knew we were being stabbed in the back'
Municipal manager Werner Zybrandts said Hermanus was stepping up its security in the area, erecting warning signs and offering security guards, pepper spray and whistles for hiking groups. Martin said having hiked for more than half an hour from the entrance to the reserve at the bottom of the kloof, they were walking along a jeep track on top of the mountain when they passed two men walking in the opposite direction. "I said good morning, and they nodded," he said, speaking from his hospital bed at Hermanus Medi-Clinic. A few seconds later they heard running footsteps behind them and presumed joggers were approaching.
"The next thing we knew we were being stabbed in the back. I was stabbed next to my kidney, and they stabbed Janet in the arm," said Martin. "They pushed us to the ground and picked up rocks." One attacker smashed Martin across the face with a rock and ripped his bag from his back using his knife.
'I was trying to reason with them, but they were totally out of control'
"They had large hunting knives that looked about 12 inches (30cm) long, then they really started roughing us up. "
Janet started saying to them: 'Would you treat your mother like this?'" Every time she said it they beat her again.
"I was trying to reason with them, but they were totally out of control," she said. "I think they were drugged up," said Martin. "They were completely senseless - there was no rationale. "
If they had just come to us with knives I would have given them the money equally." The attackers took a camera, Janet's watch and wedding ring and cellphone before forcing them down the slope away from the road, throwing rocks at them as they walked. About 30m down the slope the attackers used the couples' shoelaces to bind their feet and hands.
"We were feeling very faint and we were beginning to pass out and they told us to lie down. One of them kept saying: 'Don't kill them. Don't kill them.' Our worst thoughts were that they would slit our throats, or rape. "Janet said to me in Hebrew: 'We're going to pray to God,' and then they left us."
The couple were left alone, dehydrated, drenched in blood and weak…
When Janet tried to raise her head, they threw rocks at her, and then the couple were left alone, dehydrated, drenched in blood and weak. Staggering back to the road, they collapsed repeatedly.
"There were flies all around us. The blood was caked everywhere." Reaching a bench at a viewing site, Martin said: "We can't stay here. We're losing too much blood." Staggering again down the jeep track, they saw a group of hikers approaching - the Jouberts. They gave them water, mopped their brows, applied a tourniquet to Martin's worst wound and called rescuers, who airlifted the couple to hospital. "They saved us," said Janet of the Jouberts.
Pictureleft:: Cape Times, Michael Walker, also read Canadian news article: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/12/23/hikers-stabbed.html
The Sterns have visited Hermanus annually for the past 10 years. Now settled in Toronto where Martin works in finance, they said they left South Africa in 1986 for business reasons. Fernkloof was a hiking route Martin said they hiked once or twice a year. The Sterns said they had been overwhelmed by the treatment they had received in Hermanus and would continue to visit South Africa. He and Janet shared a ward yesterday and looked relatively cheerful. Janet's top lip was swollen on one side, and Martin's right hand bandaged. A gash ran across the bridge of his nose. Dried blood caked their fingernails.
Martin Stern said they agreed to be interviewed "because I don't want anyone else to be killed." Originally from South Africa, the Sterns moved to Canada more than 20 years ago. Born in Cape Town, Martin Stern is a vice-president and financial adviser at CIBC Wood Gundy. The couple had been returning to the Cape Town area annually since 1994. One of the couple's three daughters told the Globe and Mail that her parents had no plans to change their travel arrangements in South Africa despite the attack. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/12/24/south-africa-stern-martin-janet-attack.html
CANADIAN NEWS VIDEO: http://www.cbc.ca/video/news/player.html?clipid=1367435107
Italian couple two months ago:
Grant Forbes, reserve manager at Fernkloof, said that in the first attack two months ago, an Italian couple were approached from behind and held up at knifepoint: "They didn't see the guys' faces." The other two attacks were similar. In the second, a woman was slapped in the face, and in the most recent attack, three weeks ago, eight hikers were mugged by two men who beat them with their own walking sticks.
In each incident the attackers were two men, although police Inspector David Payne said there ‘was no evidence linking the attacks’, which all occurred on the same trail, in the same area.
Zybrandts said two men were apprehended by baboon monitors after the third attack, but they were released due to a lack of evidence. "Their excuse was that they were looking for jobs," he said.
Warning sign erected a week ago
A sign was erected at the entrance to Fernkloof a week ago, warning hikers to be vigilant, and offering emergency phone numbers. Martin Stern said he hadn't seen the sign and, had they been aware of the attacks, they wouldn't have hiked in the area alone.
Zybrandts said signs were now being erected at all informal entry points to the trail, encouraging hikers to walk in large groups and to start at the main entrance. Security guards would be provided for large groups and small groups would be given pepper spray canisters and whistles. While law enforcement teams did patrol the trails during the holiday season, their number was being increased."I just want them to catch these guys," Martin Stern said.Anyone with information to claim the reward can contact the police on 0860010111. http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=79&art_id=vn20091224053146203C608060&newslett=1&em=205034a6a20091224ah
- This article was originally published on page 1 of Cape Times on December 24, 2009
Unknown man also found dead on rock-ledge:
Police have also not yet identified the partially decomposed body found on Sunday away from a mountain about a kilometre above Voelklip beach. The circumstances surrounding his death remain murky. Contact information Overstrand municipality security officer: Director: Protection Services Contact Person: Neville Michaels Contact Number: 028 313 8914
Abducted mine-personnel also rescued in massive swoop at Fairview gold mine, Barberton
Barberton, South Africa – Fairview goldmine -- Between 18 and 23 December 2009, a total of 200 illegal miners, known as ‘zama zamas;’, were arrested in massive security swoops which were carried out in the warren of deep underground mine-shafts at the Fair View mine in Barberton, where gold-mining has been conducted since 1886..
Amongst those who were brought to the surface also were 39 mine-employees who had been abducted by the pirates and used as ‘human shields’ during their shootouts with police over the past few months. Even worse: 39 children were also found slaving away below-ground, pupils aged 14 to 17 years, working as virtual child-slaves in one of the most dangerous industries in the world. South Africa’s economy loses an estimated R56-billion from these illegal gold-smugglers, who are growing increasingly dangerous and powerful, and the SAPS has set up a task force to start addressing the problem earlier this year.
Picture: the Free State police also is at work, conducting its ‘operation zama-zamas’ in that province’s gold-mining belt, and booking successes: in June 2009 SAPS constable David Hlobo, far left and inspector Velephi Dlamini far right of the Odendaalsrus station, also arrested five illegal miners – at Pamodzi gold-mine. All were from Lesotho, and these cops – who infiltrated a zama-zama gang at great risk to their own lives – thus also had every right to pose proudly for this SAPS picture.
These illegal gold-miners are heavily-armed gangs with links to international gun- people- and gold-smuggling syndicates, according to the SA policing authorities – who are also investigating whether there may be any high-level police-officials assisting these zama-zamas.
The latest arrested suspects were brought before the Barberton Magistrate’s court, charged and ordered to remain in police custody for further questioning. Earlier this year, 19 bodies of illegal miners who had died underground during pitched gunbattles with the SAPS and mine-security forces, were brought to the surface at this mine, said Captain L. Hlathi, cellphone: 082 462 0804.
Before this large security-sweep, daily clashes between police and illegal miners were common in Mpumalanga's Barberton area, said Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu during a speech earlier this year: "Inter-gang fights and shootouts are now a daily occurrence in this area [Barberton, Mpumalanga]. Confrontations between illegal miners, the police and security personnel are becoming more frequent," she told the National Council of Provinces. The illegal miners, or zama-zamas, were armed and abducted legal miners to use as human shields in clashes with police. These illegal diggers are armed and dangerous. They are openly carrying a huge number of weapons, including AK47s and 9mm pistols," she said. Earlier, 60 illegal miners also were killed in a Welkom goldmine after they set fire to the tunnels to stop police from entering.
In Welkom in the Free State, booby traps using explosives had been set for police and security personnel. "Illicit mining is also spawning other illegal activities, including child prostitution and child labour. As if this was not enough, good citizens who report these illegal activities to the authorities are subjected to serious threats and harassment."
- “Highly organised, well-resourced syndicates raked in billions of rands and used legal miners to transport food and other necessities like explosives and equipment, she said. Local gangs helped the syndicates by bribing legal miners and recruiting diggers from neighbouring countries like Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The gangs further provided legal support to arrested illegal miners,” said Shabangu.
“Once they had (smelted down the) gold, an exporter working with the syndicate ensured it was smuggled out of the country, which negatively affected the country's economy.
- "The smuggled gold then changes hands to intermediaries or front companies and ends up with international buyers," Shabangu said. In a bid to combat these activities, an illegal mining forum comprising police, community leaders, government, mining companies and the department had been set up. There were now reports that illegal mining was starting on Gauteng's West Rand mines. She said Cabinet has also resolved that the newly formed Hawks be roped in to help fight the criminal activities. Police and prosecutors would also be investigated to see if they were not helping the syndicates. http://www.sapsjournalonline.gov.za/dynamic/journal_dynamic.aspx?pageid=414&jid=17927
Preventing Tuberculosis with sorghum-beer…
These police-sweeps also reveal the horrendous conditions in which these zama-zamas and their captives are working: members of the Free State Task Team during a ‘sting operation’ said among items confiscated were liquor and sorghum beer, which the Zama Zamas believed could prevent TB, because there were possibilities of catching the disease underground.
A large amount of food was also seized which was believed would have been sold underground. "Items like a loaf of brown bread are sold for R100, 1kg Morvite powder for R50 and a packet of cigarettes could cost up to R150." Canned food could to go for R100, a lunch box for R250, a packet of peanuts for R150, dagga of about 10 grams could cost about R500 and two litres of sorghum beer . Thirty illegal miners held after sting