Dollie Pietersen trembles as she recounts watching the cars of her neighbours, Breggie, Elzabie and Danie Brand, drive past her at around 1pm on July 26 2020.
“The driver stalled it [the car] on the corner. Elzabie never stalled her car on that corner. Something just didn’t feel right,” Pietersen says.
Pietersen began anxiously calling other members of the Hartswater community, looking for information regarding her missing neighbours.
Following the discovery of blood by family friend Steven Bennie, a community wide search began.
On the evening of July 27, the mutilated body of 54-year-old Elzabie was found in a field about 25km away from their farm.
The bodies of 83-year-old Danie and 73-year-old Breggie were found in shallow graves in the early hours of July 28, about a kilometre away from where Elzabie was found.
“They left the corpses kilometres apart in the field. The bodies were covered. They weren’t visible,” Bennie says.
Police believe suspects broke into the Brand house at around lunchtime on July 26 before overpowering the family in their kitchen.
The family members were then thrown into their own Mazda before being killed and left in a field.
The Hartswater community has been left angry, hurt and afraid, according to the AfriForum manager in the Karoo area, Lize-Mari Smit.
“There are people who remain behind, left to pick up the pieces of their lives. At this stage there are mixed feelings. People are feeling angry and heartbroken, and want to know why,” she says.
Five suspects accused of robbery, kidnapping and murder appeared in court on July 30 2020.
While the suspects stand trial, family and friends of the Brand family are confused, heartbroken and afraid.
Khomotso Mpumlwana, 43, Tshepo Visagie, 36, Donald Seolesang, 20, Tshepaone Melato, 19, and Realeboga Manyedi, 18 will remain in custody until the start of their trial.
Investigations are ongoing.