The gruesome attack on the well-known Mr Piet Els (86) and his partner, Ms Magrietha Alsemgeest (66), seems to have had a political motive.
Dr Wynand Boshoff, leader of the FF Plus in the Northern Cape, says that even though the Northern Cape have not had as many farm attacks as some of the other provinces, this attack was a rude awakening for many people.
“Very little is known about the attack, except for the fact that it was characterised by excessive cruelty. According to media reports, the victims were burnt with an iron, beaten, tied up and robbed. The couple are currently in hospital.
“This always raises the question of whether we are dealing with a ‘normal’ crime or a politically-motivated one. In this case, Mr Els’s status as a prominent landowner near Kimberly must be taken into account.
“Over the last few months, politicians in the Sol Plaatje Municipal Council repeatedly referred to Mr Els in the context of expropriation without compensation as a way of getting hold of land for low-cost housing developments.
“The particulars of the attack are not known, and it is regrettable that politicians may have possibly paved the way for such attacks by making irresponsible statements,” says Dr Boshoff. He has cautioned politicians against stoking racial tensions.
“I would not venture to say that this and other attacks are centrally orchestrated but irresponsible slants against landowners, which were several times directed against Els personally, certainly create an explosive situation,” Boshoff said.
South African statutory law does not yet define a “farm attack” as a specific crime. Rather, the term is used to refer to a number of different crimes committed against whites specifically on commercial farms or smallholdings.
The victims were admitted to the high care unit at Mediclinic Gariep on Wednesday after four black men attacked them. They have suffered serious injuries including extensive burns.
According to Magrietha Alsemgeest, who spoke to the Diamond Fields Advertiser newspaper from her hospital bed on Wednesday, the attackers fled with firearms, Krugerrands, jewellery and cellphones. The entire ordeal lasted for two to three hours.
Els was unable to speak to the media due to the seriousness of his injuries, including a fractured skull and severe burns.
“The entire ordeal felt so unreal. I cannot believe it actually happened. Although we wanted to co-operate and give them what they wanted, we couldn’t because they kept on beating us.” The farm house was ransacked.
Agri Northern Cape general manager, Henning Myburgh, said that the attack on farmers could not be blamed on racism. “Farmers are prone to be attacked as they are staying alone and far from where they can reach help easily. Research has shown that such attacks are not due to racism but rather because farmers are easy targets as they are staying alone.
“We extend our sympathies to the loved ones of both victims as they were both brutally attacked. Any attack of this nature, whether on a farm or in the communities, taints the image of the Northern Cape. Crime in the Province is a problem as it is a continuous matter that we need to root out,” said Myburgh.
“The increase in attacks in the Province is worrisome. The Northern Cape had a lower number of attacks than the Free State and North West.”
Footage of a farm attack from Thursday 17 December 2015 (20:00) was released in 2016 showing the precision involved in the attack and the use of sophisticated equipment.
In the photo the black attackers are shown with a signal jammer, carrying well-kitted backpacks.