The murder on Friday took the life of the 55-year-old victim, Peet van Es. His Dutch companion survived the attack. Van Es died after suffering immense pain during hours of torture.
Five masked black assailants attacked the farm. When they entered the homestead, three armed attackers came in first, followed by the remaining two. They tied down his female partner Arine Prins and a friend identified only as Michael, assaulting them to attain access to the safe.
The armed suspects wearing balaclavas entered the house after 20:00. “My husband was upstairs and we were downstairs when they arrived,” Prins said.
“The suspects tied our hands and legs using speaker wire they found in our house. They assaulted me, demanding to know where we keep the safe in the house,” she told the Barberton Times. The assailants then made their way to the second story of the house where they tortured Van Es.
“During this torment, some went upstairs and eventually stabbed my husband to death.” They had tortured Van Es for five hours before they killed him. Prins had heard his agonizing screams.
“They took the jewellery I was wearing before leaving our property. After they left, I screamed for help,” she said.
When the reporters from the local paper visited her the next morning, she had severe facial bruises from the attack.
The widow told the Barberton Times that the criminals had fled the scene in the victim’s stolen car.
“There is even a name for it: plaasmoorde, as in the Afrikaans word for farm murders,” says Dutch correspondent Bram Vermeulen. “In 2016 there were over 300 of these types of attacks, where 64 farmers or their family members were killed. It often happens in horrific ways, farmers are not only robbed, but also tortured.”
Organisations defending the white community in South Africa found that the government, led by the ANC, were doing too little to solve the problem.
This year has seen 25 similar killings already. In this case too, the attack had been planned with military precision.
In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’s party, the PVV, addressed the issue during a session in the Lower House of parliament. The party is concerned about the lack of protection offered to white farmers in South Africa by law enforcement.
Questions by members Raymond De Roon and Martin Bosma (both PVV) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the issue of a farm murder on a Dutch citizen in South Africa, included whether the government could explain the fact that the number of farm murders had recently risen sharply.
The members wanted to know in what percentage of cases where charges were brought against the alleged killers, those charges actually led to convictions.
Both members expressed concern that the murder docket would, during a police investigation, end in the customary African way of disappearing “under a thick layer of dust”.
They called on Dutch authorities to pressure the South African government to protect the Dutch farming community in South Africa against more bloodshed and suggested that the economic mismanagement by the ANC’s cadres contributed to the problem.
“The question is whether farmers are specifically targeted or whether South Africa just has a problem with criminality in which farmers also happen to suffer,” Vermeulen told Dutch public broadcaster NOS. “In farmers’ organisations as well as in so-called ‘far-right circles’ it is said that politics cause farm murders: If they kill enough, then the white farmers would disappear from the country.”
Investigations led by the ANC, however, always come to the same conclusion: it is ordinary crime, and farmers like other residents of the country are often victims, but there is no political agenda behind it.
The question remains however: If it is only “ordinary crime”, why are the victims tortured to death?