#VryheidFarmAttacks – How killing the ‘Boer’ will eventually kill us all

"Stop killing our farmers" was a phrase close to the hearts and minds of all South Africans who took part in the peaceful Black Monday protest.

DID you eat today?

Had a bowl of maize meal for breakfast, or perhaps fried up some bacon and eggs? Enjoyed a glass of orange juice or a bit of milk in your morning coffee?

You did? Well, you can thank a farmer for that. Every time you sit down and enjoy a meal, spare a thought for the farmer and his workers who make that meal possible.

Take a moment to contemplate the daily risk they, and their families, face to ensure you the convenience of buying your food from a supermarket, given the scathing attacks on farmers since the early 90’s, which has escalated horrifically in more recent times.

There’s a quote by Brenda Schoepp that reads, “My grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher, but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.”

There are obvious reasons to appreciate our local farmers, predominantly for the fact that they provide us with food, which should require no explanation to anyone with a basic grasp for the concept that milk doesn’t actually come from a container, but from a cow, for example, which must be reared and cared for by a farmer and his workers.

Let us also remember that farmers provide jobs, employing workers largely from rural communities who would still be waiting for the fruits of their votes, cast to the proverbial dangling carrot of empty promises from those they believed would deliver them a better life in return for their misplaced trust.

Disturbingly, however, it seems that there are those who seek to destroy the agricultural foundation of the country by murdering farmers, their families and oftentimes their workers. What logic is disregarded in these brutal assassinations is that what perishes along with them is a source of food for the entire country and a reliable source of income for their employees.

The dairy industry alone consists of around 4 300 milk producers providing employment for 60 000 farm workers and contributing to the livelihoods of around 40 000 others.

From September 2013 to November 2017, the Vryheid Herald alone had reported on no less than eleven farm attacks, which brings the ongoing atrocity of farm attacks and cold-blooded murder ever closer to home.

In September 2013, Willem Weites (78) was murdered on his farm, shot in the head and chest by his killers, who also assaulted his wife and daughter during the attack.

In April 2014, three men, Mzumuhle Ntshangase, 30, from Vryheid, as well as his two accomplices from Thembisa, Moses Sigawuge, 34, and Big-Boy Ncube, 29, were found guilty of the murder of Willem Weites in the Pietermaritzburg High Court. Ntshangase and Sigawuge were jailed for life plus 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances and Ncube, who was not part of the murder plot, but who drove the killers to the Weites’ Ngome farm, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder and 15 years for robbery.


In March 2014, a gang of between eight and twelve heavily armed masked attackers descended on the farm of Kowie Lombard on a Sunday morning, with the alleged intent of robbing the farmer.

Kowie Lombard and Harry Heyns.

They were met with resistance after quick thinking by one of Mr Lombard’s workers resulted in the authorities being alerted of the attack. The suspects fled the scene, but one was severely injured and another taken into custody.


Gertman Janse van Rensburg was the next farmer to come under fire from the criminal element when his farm was attacked in August of 2014.

The workers were tied up and held up at gunpoint, but were told that they would not be harmed as the attackers wanted the farm owner. Janse van Rensburg was not at the farm at the time of the attack and was alerted by one of his workers who managed to escape. The authorities arrived and a gun battle ensued, leaving one of the attackers dead and one injured. The others escaped but were later detained by Vryheid K9 Unit. In May 2015, the six surviving farm attackers were released and all charges were mysteriously dropped without explanation from the relevant authorities. It is believed that these attackers may have been linked to the earlier attack on Kowie Lombard’s farm.


Nico and Marsha Lens, 62 and 61 respectively, lived in the Kempslust area for 34 years. They were brutally gunned down on their farm in September 2014 by three armed attackers, aged between 27 and 52, who were reportedly arrested in the month following the double murder.

Officers of the Newcastle Task Team traced the suspects to Mpumalanga, where they were reportedly found in possession of a revolver said to have been stolen from the Lens farm. Siyabonga Sithole (26) was one of the three suspects arrested in connection with the execution style double murder, and was eventually convicted and sentenced on May 19 this year. Sithole was handed two life sentences for murder and fifteen years for armed robbery in the Madadeni High Court. Sithole, who had been convicted of culpable homicide only fifteen days prior to the Lens murder and was serving a suspended sentence at the time, was charged and convicted for illegal possession of a firearm, for which he was handed an additional three year sentence, and illegal possession of ammunition, for which he also received an additional three years.


In July 2015, Sancha Labuschagne and Olga Nyoga were attacked by three armed assailants on a smallholding near the farm where Willem Weites was murdered.

In July 2015, Sancha Labuschagne and Olga Nyoga were attacked by three armed assailants on a smallholding near the farm where Willem Weites was murdered.

Olga managed to send out a call for help, possibly saving the lives of herself and her employer from a fate much worse. The attackers fled when help arrived.

Click here to read more: Attackers ambush smallholding near Vryheid

The murder of Billy van Rooyen and his father-in-law, Ronnie Lombard in April of 2016 on their Swart Mfolozi farm shook the community to its core.

Ronnie Lombard and his son-in-law, Billy van Rooyen, in happier times before their family was struck by this senseless tragedy.

Nine attackers, believed to be armed with AK47’s, descended upon the family’s home shortly after 8pm on that fateful Tuesday night of April 19 and opened fire when Van Rooyen emerged from the house to check why the dogs were barking. The alleged motive was robbery but, with initial reports stating that as many as fifty shots were fired at the Van Rooyen home, the massacre resulted in the death of Van Rooyen and Lombard, as well as leaving Van Rooyen’s father, Lodewyk van Rooyen, severely injured.

Tireless investigation and dedication to obtaining justice for the Van Rooyen and Lombard families, by Captain Attie Engelbrecht and his team, led to the capture and arrest of the murderers.

Bongani Miya, one of the nine arrested farm attackers, committed suicide in the Vryheid holding cells while in custody and Thulani Hlonipani Sibiya, who recently pleaded guilty for his part in the heinous attack, has been handed a double life sentence with an additional forty years imprisonment to be served concurrently.

Another of the perpetrators of the Van Rooyen farm attack has turned state’s witness and the remaining six accused remain in custody awaiting trial at the High Court in April of 2018.


77-year-old Friedel Filter was gunned down on his farm only weeks after the Van Rooyen farm attack was still a fresh wound in the hearts of the community.

A 20-year-old farm worker was also shot twice in the leg as the attackers fled. Three suspects were arrested in connection with this farm attack and are currently awaiting trial. One suspect is still at large.


Lt Arno Engelbrecht and Mr Helmutt Filter.

In April 2017, a farm attack in the Paulpietersburg area was narrowly averted when the intended victim, Arno Engelbrecht, took a gang of five masked assailants by surprise, sounding the alarm to alert the relevant response teams before the attackers could carry out their nefarious deed. Engelbrecht and his workers escaped unharmed thanks to the massively efficient response from the community.


In the same month, another farm attack was carried out at Dagane Farm under the alleged guise of robbery, where Ross Geraghty was brutally assaulted and tortured by at least four attackers.

#VryheidFarmAttack – Farm attackers strike near Gluckstadt
Published online on April 24

Geraghty, who was alone in the house at the time of the attack, was tied up by the balaclava-clad assailants and burnt with a hot iron. The thugs also covered his head with a plastic bag while they ransacked the house.

Approximately 45 minutes after the attack began, the suspects opened fire on Geraghty’s cousin, Andrew Brooks, who had shone a torch out of the window of his flat to investigate when he heard the disturbance outside. Brooks fired back and the attackers fled.

Only one suspect, a former employee at Dagane Farm, was eventually arrested and is scheduled to appear in court on November 28.


On October 30, the very day that the nation stood together in peaceful protest against farm attacks, 73-year-old Bokkie Potgieter was hacked to death by a lone attacker on his farm near Vryheid.

Bokkie Potgieter was hacked to death by his attacker the very day South Africans stood together against farm attacks.

In his bumbling attempt to flee the scene, the attacker was faced with the full might of the angered rural community, who avenged the needless death of Mr Potgieter, exacting immediate justice and beating the killer to death for his crime. KZN police dismissed Potgieter’s murder as being unrelated to farm attacks and some media houses even reported on the incident portraying Potgieter’s attacker as the victim.


Barely a week after Bokkie Potgieter was murdered, another Vryheid farmer was mercilessly slain by two workers from a neighbouring farm.

Danie Swanepoel (57) was ruthlessly and mercilessly tortured and murdered by farm attackers, Ayanda Mncube and Sibusiso Mbatha.

Danie Swanepoel (57) was tortured, stabbed, cut, beaten and electrocuted with a cattle prodder for several hours and then murdered on his farm in the Zaailaagte area near Vryheid.

The two brazen attackers then kidnapped Swanepoel’s wife and forced her to withdraw money at an ATM which they robbed her of. They unashamedly forced her to drive them to another farm to collect other stolen goods, but it was this arrogance that got them caught, when alert community members raised the alarm.

Members of the farming community were able to apprehend one of the suspects and rescue Mrs Swanepoel by running the vehicle off the road and a massive manhunt ensued to capture the second suspect who was detained the following morning.

The two suspects who are believed to have tortured and murdered Danie Swanepoel in a recent farm attack.

Both suspects, aged 21 and 23, appeared in court on November 6 and the case was postponed to November 15 when they will appear for a formal bail application.


That equates to eleven reported farm attacks and eight innocent lives ruthlessly cut short by savages with no regard for human life.

Prior to and in between these reports, there have been several other cases, which were not published at the time, but remain entirely relevant to the matter at hand. In July of 2002, Johnny Scheepers was shot and killed near his Scheepersnek farm. Approximately a year ago, Attie Scheepers was brutally assaulted in a farm attack, but survived. Louis van Rooyen survived a brutal attack on his Leeuwnek farm and the late Marco van Rensburg survived an armed attack on his farm.

Perhaps it is only when the last farmer has been killed, the last harvest depleted and the entire nation crippled by hunger and starvation that those in power will comprehend the immensely destructive economical and humanitarian impact of the killing of the ‘boer’. But then it will be too late. It’s not about black or white, despite what they want us to believe – It’s about the human race. We can’t survive without food, so we can’t survive without farmers. It’s as simple as that.

Following the brutal murder of Billy Van Rooyen and his father in law, Ronnie Lombard, the community members of Zwathi took to the streets saying ‘enough is enough’.

Click here to read: Community stands against farm attacks

So, in the words of Daniel Webster, whether one likes it or not, mankind must eat, therefore “Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labour of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.”

An aerial view of the Black Monday mass ride that took place through Vryheid on October 30. Photo credit: Chantelle Colloty.


VIDEO: 911 Riders cover more than 5000km to show support for farm attack victims

The vision of the ‘Bikers Ride Against Farm Murders’ project is to show support for thousands of South African farmers who still live in constant fear of becoming the next victims of the escalating scourge of farm attacks that plague our nation and threaten the future of all South Africans.

Elaine Rodway

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