A family of three and an 85-year-old man were killed in two separate farm attacks in KwaZulu-Natal in three days.
On Tuesday, the DA in the province said the murders took place in the midlands area.
“The incidents saw an 85-year-old Albert Falls farmer shot dead [on Saturday] and a family of three brutally killed near Bishopstowe [on Monday].
“These two heinous crimes are just the latest in what have been a terrible and tragic few months within KwaZulu-Natal’s farming community. The DA in KwaZulu-Natal extends its deepest condolences to all families and communities affected by the ongoing violence within our rural areas,” said the party’s agriculture and rural development spokesperson Chris Pappas.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Col Thembeka Mbele said the Debruin family were attacked on Monday after a labour dispute.
“It is alleged that two weeks ago there was a labour dispute between Daniel Debruin and his employees. Two of his workers were not pleased with their employer’s decision. The farm was closed and the employees were moved to a nearby informal settlement where they stay.
“Yesterday, the suspects arrived at the farmer’s tuck shop inside the premises and found the deceased’s son, bought chips and passed some remarks,” she said.
Later in the afternoon, the farmer’s son was called by another farmer, informing him that his father’s farm was on fire.
“When he tried to call his parents, there was no response. He then rushed to the farm and found bodies of his parents and grandfather with stab wounds to the necks and head,” Mbele said.
Debruin, 58, was found few metres away from the main house. His wife Glynis Debruin, 60, was found dead in the kitchen and 84-year-old Collin Debruin was found dead just outside his room.
“Charges of murder were opened at Bishopstowe police station. After an intensive investigation, early this morning the Bishopstowe detectives, with the assistance of the Mountain Rise K9 unit, arrested two suspects, aged 27 and 35, at Swapo informal settlement in Copesville,” Mbele said.
The pair will appear in the Pietermaritzburg magistrate’s court on Thursday on murder charges.
KZN police commissioner Lt-Gen Khombinkosi Jula applauded the Bishopstowe detectives and Mountain Rise K9 police for the swift arrests.
“Justice will prevail and we hope the family will find solace knowing the perpetrators are behind bars,” he said.
‘Blatant lack of political will’
Meanwhile, Pappas said the DA had made several proposals to KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala and the agriculture and community safety MECs.
“In addition to this, the DA made suggestions during a joint committee meeting of these two portfolios. Yet, despite four months having passed since then, there has been no further meeting to resolve these suggestions,” he said.
“In all these cases, the blatant lack of political will and uncaring stance of the ANC-led provincial government is glaring. This lack of action borders on a dereliction of duty on the part of the province’s political leadership.
“While the government is quick to act against violence when it comes to truckers and cash-in-transit vehicle heists, it is motionless and emotionless on matters involving farmers and farm workers, who are being attacked and murdered at a rate much higher than many other groups. This while the premier and his provincial government are nowhere to be found.”
The DA has also written to “the top 10 international human rights organisations globally to request their assistance in fighting this ongoing scourge”.
“We are awaiting their responses. We maintain our calls to have farm murders declared a hate crime and urge President Cyril Ramaphosa and premier Zikalala to treat this issue with urgency before communities take matters into their own hands,” said Pappas.