Two farm attacks in the Free State

Two farm attacks were reported in Bothaville and Smithfield, Free State, on Wednesday.

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Free State Agriculture (FSA) said no one was seriously injured during the attacks, which occurred within hours of each other.

According to the VKB/FSA Safety Desk information, Frikkie van der Merwe, his wife and a visitor were attacked on farm Vreugde in the early hours of the morning. It was not yet clear how the suspects entered the farmhouse. No one was injured and the suspects fled with a silver Volkswagen Tiguan, number plate 105 TIP FS.

In the second incident, Piet Swanepoel, a farmer from the Smithfield district, was attacked while leaving his house at about 6am. The four suspects shot at him and he returned fire. They fled the scene and the car that they used was found.

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Tommie Esterhuyse, chairperson of the FSA Law and Order Committee, said farmers’ alertness contributed to the fact that no serious injuries or fatalities occurred.

“This alertness, as well as the fast activation of the Rural Safety Plan and rural safety structures, is a clear sign to criminals that farmers and the police will continue to work together to arrest criminals and, as far as possible, prevent incidents and loss of life,” Esterhuyse said.

“The police and farmers are still searching for the suspects, but the main reason for the attacks could be robbery.”

Esterhuyse said the FSA reiterated its call to farmers to join their local safety structures to help keep themselves and their communities safe, and to ensure that the farm workers form part of the safety plan. He added that there had been a slight decrease in attacks in the province compared to the previous year.

“The farm attacks from January to August last year amounted to a total of 43, compared with 37 from January up to now this year. During this year’s attacks, one farmer and four workers were killed,” Esterhuyse said.