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Willem van der Merwe; Worker supporting his employer after he found him; Farm attacks

White farmer in critical condition after attack

A white farmer in the Koue Bokkeveld, near the town of Ceres, is in a critical condition in hospital after he was repeatedly stabbed by two black suspects on Monday evening, Western Cape police said on Tuesday.

Published: October 12, 2017, 8:27 am

    Wilhelm van der Merwe’s head was covered with a bag and his assailants dragged him inside a building. While his hands and feet were tied up, he was stabbed, Captain FC van Wyk told News24.

    The farmer’s black employees found him lying on his office floor and contacted the police.

    The small Afrikaner party in South Africa, the Freedom Front Plus, strongly condemned the attack and called on police to do everything in their power to capture the perpetrators as soon as possible.

    Corné Mulder, leader of the FF Plus in the Western Cape, explained that during the assault, a group of black men allegedly forced IW van der Merwe to open the safe of his roadside stall and then they proceeded to attack him. He was stabbed with a knife numerous times.

    The suspicion is that Van der Merwe was attacked by a group of migrants, who pose as seasonal workers from Lesotho, a tiny independent state and former British protectorate inside South Africa. They fled after the attack.

    For safety reasons, Mulder called on farmers to make use of the local labour force as far as possible seeing as the local workers are recognized in the region and they cannot easily flee to other parts of the country, or even cross the border to another country, after committing a crime.

    “The FF Plus also wants to warn farmers in the province to remain vigilant as farm attacks can occur anywhere in the country. Although the incidence of farm attacks and murders is a lot lower in the Western Cape, it doesn’t mean that it can’t happen there too.

    The South African police continue to maintain that they are doing their job to protect farmers, but the protection is far from adequate, Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus said.

    According to Groenewald, the Minister’s response to a written parliamentary question was not only disappointing, but also a step in the wrong direction for rural safety.

    The Minister refuses to consider specialised units for rural protection and simply builds on the existing Rural Safety Strategy, which has various shortcomings, especially with regard to the practical application thereof. There are currently about twenty police stations in rural areas that don’t even meet die minimum requirements for sector policing, Groenewald explained.

    He says that farmers have been complaining that the police no longer visit farms, an issue that was also raised at a discussion of rural safety at the cultural festival Aardklop recently.

    In response to Groenewald’s first parliamentary question regarding the steps that will be taken in light of the wave of farm murders during August 2017 in which six people were killed in 23 farm attacks, the Minister said that the numbers cannot be confirmed and that the incidents are currently in the process of being verified.

    Groenewald noted that the fact that the police still cannot confirm how may farm attacks and murders took place in August this year is unacceptable and in itself it is an indication that the police and the government are not taking farm attacks seriously.

    It also points to the possibility that the police simply do not have the capacity to quickly analyse crime information in order to get preventative measures in place.

    “I have a follow-up question for the Minister: what exactly is meant with ‘increased capacity at police stations’? We need to know so that it can be monitored to see if they are keeping to their commitments.

    “The rest simply sounds like a rehash of the existing measures that are certainly not adequate,” says Groenewald.

    Van der Merwe’s son Pierre confirmed that his father had hired seasonal workers from Lesotho because he had felt sorry for them.

    Lesotho is an extremely poor country, even though it remains a member of the British Commonwealth. It has the third highest rate of HIV in the world and the third lowest life expectancy (45.9 years).

    There is a high level of inequality in income distribution, in the mostly black country. In 2016, all ten of the world’s poorest countries were found in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has been under British influence for over two centuries.

    The UK Department for International Development’s (DFID) own website describes Lesotho as one of the poorest countries in the world with a high degree of vulnerability.

    Pierre van der Merwe told FWM that the foreign workers had asked for food because they were hungry. When his father turned to go and fetch them something to eat, they attacked him, he said. His father had trusted the migrant workers.

    They assaulted Van der Merwe senior with sticks and kicked him when he fell to the ground. He was stabbed 20 times in the neck and torso, according to Pierre.

    They had left him on the floor bleeding. Two South African black workers who came to the farmstead to say goodnight, found their employer in this terrible state and helped him.

    “I could hear my dad breathing from a gaping hole in his chest. I really thought we were never going to see him again.”

    Van der Merwe was taken to Ceres hospital, but transferred to the Mediclinic Panorama as a result of the seriousness of his injuries. He remains in a serious condition.

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