The murder of 21-year-old Free State farm manager Brendin Horner has outraged the agricultural community, who demanded justice on Tuesday when two suspects appeared in court.
Horner was found dead on the DeRots farm on Friday. His body had been tied to a pole.
Two suspects, Sekwetje Isaiah Mahlamba, 32, and Sekola Piet Matlaletsa, 44 were arrested on Saturday.
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Police launch manhunt after murder
Horner was employed as a manager by Gilly Scheepers and worked at the Bloukruin farm. He celebrated a one-year anniversary since his employment on the day he was murdered.
Free State police spokesperson Brig Motantsi Makhele said Horner sustained injuries to his head and face and was tied to the pole with a rope on his neck. A knife was seized at the scene, and his Toyota Hilux was later found with bloodstains.
His murder was widely condemned by agricultural groups.
Agricultural strategist Dr Jaco De Villiers said the attacks on farmers are also an attack on food production. He said if farm murders don’t stop, there could be more bloodshed.
Koos Odendaal, who oversees safety in farming communities in the Free State and the Eastern Cape, said farmers will overcome this “wave” of attacks. He said they are considering extensive measures to protect themselves.
Police pounced on two suspects at Fateng tse Ntsho in Paul Roux on Sunday. Makhele said they were found with bloodstained shoes and clothes which were taken for forensic tests.
He said police believe Horner may have spotted the two men, suspected to be stock thieves, before he was murdered.
Makhele said the suspects would appear at the Senekal magistrate’s court on Tuesday.
A hard-working man
Scheepers said Horner was a kind, hard-working young man who was loved by everyone on the farm. On the day of his death, he was happy as he was celebrating his one-year anniversary of working for the family.
She said his death had taken a toll on his family, and his father had asked for privacy. Scheepers said she last saw Horner on Thursday just after 6pm when he knocked off. He then went to visit his father on the neighbouring farm.
His girlfriend, Lenize Taljaard, was worried when he didn’t arrive home that evening, prompting a police search. Scheepers hired a private investigator and offered a R50,000 reward to ensure prosecution.
His close friend, Gwyneth Visagie, said Horner “meant the world” to his family and friends and his death came as a shock to everyone who loved him.
Protesters gathered in numbers in the Free State town on Tuesday while carrying placards with the words “remember their names” and “enough is enough.”
National police commissioner Khehla Sitole said authorities were discussing interventions for farm murder hotspots.
Chairperson of the Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai), Theo de Jager, said the plight of farmers in SA was making international headlines and that they were frustrated with the inaction of the state.
The two suspects appeared in court on Tuesday, and Makhele said the matter was postponed to October 16 for a formal bail application.
He said a group of angry farmers demanded to “deal” with the suspects after court proceedings, and reported that they damaged court property.
A police van parked outside the court was burnt. Two gunshots were fired, but no-one sustained injuries,Makhele said.