NEWS

Vicious Murder On KZN Farm Followed By Two Attacks In Free State In 14 Hours

An 83-year old man bled to death on the KZN farm on Friday, while no serious injuries were reported in the Free State attacks.

02/08/2017 17:21 SAST | Updated 02/08/2017 17:21 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
A worker uses a tractor to spray a field of crops during crop-eating armyworm invasion at a farm in Settlers, northern province of Limpopo, South Africa, February 8, 2017.

Two farm attacks in different areas of the Free State took place within 14 hours from each other on 1 August, Free State Agriculture (VKB) said on Wednesday.

Six farm workers were attacked in the first incident on a farm near the Free State border, albeit without any serious injuries, while in the latter farmer Gustav Louw near Theunissen fired warning shots after which suspects fled.

Meanwhile, a bound elderly resident of Glendale Heights near Ballito in KwaZulu-Natal is reported to have struggled to escape for nearly 15 hours while her husband, 83, was dying after being shot in the stomach by robbers.

Netwerk24 on Tuesday reported that Bob Gawler and his wife were attacked in their home at approximately 6pm on Friday. He bled to death hours after being shot while his wife Denise, 74, had her hands tied with cable ties.

The couple's son-in-law, Ricky Pissarra, on Tuesday morning told Netwerk24 that Denise was traumatised and struggled to speak about what had happened during the robbery. Pissarra said it was "another farm attack" but does not suspect a political motive.

READ: A Bloody Shame -- Demystifying Farm Murders In South Africa

"Bob had just finished showering. He was killed in the passage with his own firearm. He didn't die immediately and obviously had put up a tremendous fight. We could see the bruises on his hands," he said.

Pissarra said his in-laws were expected to visit in Ballito the following day and when they didn't arrive called the neighbours to inspect. A neighbour found Bob's body and saw Denise lying on the carpet, he said.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane told Netwek24 no arrests had yet been made. According to Free State Agriculture, no arrests have yet been made in relation to the two attacks in that province as well.

Independent crime analyst Dr Chris de Kock, former head of Crime Research and Intelligence (SAPS), told HuffPost South Africa in April that farm murders reached a peak in the late 1990s, ranging between 100-200 a year. "Following interventions by [Nelson] Mandela's government, these numbers decreased and stabilised around 50 to 60 a year in the 2000s."

Though recording a slight decrease in farm murders year-on-year in 2016/7, from 50 to 46 by end March, according to crime statistics presented last month, De Kock said he expects the total number of murders may increase to 70 or 80 this year. "Something went wrong in 2016/7, farm murders started increasing dramatically," he said.