On 14 December 2020 in a second farm attack on this horrific Monday, three innocent lives were lost on Hoegelee Farm at Bishopstowe near Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu Natal. The attackers butchered the family to death and then set fire to the sugar cane fields of the farm.
Police who attended the scene said it was one of the most gruesome murders they have witnessed. The three family members were Daniel Casper De Bruin (58) aka Danie, Glynis De Bruin (60), and Colin Schwegman (84).
The farm attack is the third in three days, following the brutal murder of Poenkie Bisset in the Free State and the murder of Eighty-Five year-old Bill Theron also from KwaZulu-Natal. Five productive farmers killed in three days!
According to social media reports, it is alleged that the couple’s son Mark received a call from the farm owner Clinton Diedricks at around 6 PM when Clinton could not get hold of Mark’s father.
Mark then decided to drive to Hoegelee Farm and on his arrival at the main house discovered the bodies of his mother and his grandfather.
They were killed with pangas (machetes)
He then began looking for his father and went to the tuckshop where he found Danie lying dead in a pool of blood.
A multidisciplinary team consisting of Police and Provincial Organised Crime Investigation members worked throughout the night processing the crime scene and obtaining witness statements.
Detectives managed to piece together evidence that pointed in the direction of two farmworkers, employed as sugar cane cutters who had been embroiled in a wage dispute with De Bruin.
Several farmworkers told police about the on-going dispute. The suspects did not report for work on the day of the attack. Police then interviewed the brother of one of the suspects who provided detectives with his brother’s home address in Swapo settlement, near Copesville.
“When police arrived at the first suspect’s house in Swapo B, he was found bleeding with injuries from the scene. There were plenty of airtime vouchers, coins, bloodied clothing, and shoes – items stolen from the farm’s tuckshop and from the farmhouse,” said one of the police officers involved in the matter.
Police recovered a panga which is believed to have been used in the murder, from the suspect’s home.
Further investigations led police officers to the second suspect’s home. A standoff ensued when the suspect refused to hand himself over. Police forced their way into the property and arrested the man who was in possession of the other murder weapon used in the panga attack.
Police found blood-soaked clothing in the man’s house.
Lizo Madukane (35) and Thembelani Majola (28) appeared briefly in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday 17 December.
“The two suspects that were arrested worked at the farm. We understand there was an issue with wages for the last two weeks. It is unclear what the issue was about but matters boiled over on Monday which would have been payday at the farm.” the police said.
Initial investigations indicate that the two suspects went to the farm tuckshop on the pretext of purchasing items. There the suspects attacked and killed Daniel. The suspects then proceeded to the farmhouse where they attacked and murdered Glynis in her kitchen and her father Colin Schwegman in his bedroom.
KwaZulu-Natal provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula applauded the swift arrests.
“Justice will prevail and we hope the family will find solace knowing that the perpetrators are behind bars,” said Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula.
The owner of the farm Clinton Diedricks said the suspects were not long time employees but had been hired for the first time this year as seasonal workers and, contrary to earlier media reports, there had not been a labour dispute.
He said two weeks ago workers had been advised that an annual bonus, which could be in cash or kind by way of food hampers, was at the employer’s discretion and a decision had not yet been made about the award.
He said it was “disappointing” that for petty cash and a safe containing a document, the suspects had allegedly resorted to murder.
“My farm manager, his wife and her father were sitting and having supper, and he got a call from the security gate which was locked. He left his supper and went out. He was stabbed in the head with knives,” he said.
“They then went to the kitchen and did the same to the wife and the father-in-law. It was purely malicious and theft,” he said.
Kwanalu chief executive Sandy La Marque said the union condemned the triple murder “in the strongest terms”.
“The cowardly and callous excuse of a bonus dispute is no reason to take the lives of three innocent people. The alleged murderers have not only destroyed their victims’ futures, but they have also stolen the livelihoods and future of employees and their families,” La Marque said.
The KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union said in a press release:
Kwanalu condemns in the strongest terms the triple murder which took place in Bishopstowe on 14 December 2020.
The cowardly and callous excuse of a bonus dispute is no reason to take the lives of three innocent people. The alleged murderers have not only destroyed their victims’ futures but they have also stolen the livelihoods and future of employees and their families. The victims have left a farming business, family and friends behind who will forever remember this horrendous and cowardly murder.
Kwanalu calls on SAPS to ensure that the perpetrators face the full might of the law.
Kwanalu further calls on relevant government departments to ensure that labour laws and education thereof is unbiased and correctly disseminated to ensure that false expectations are not raised and that a sound understanding of the laws and rights of employers are understood.
Kwanalu appeals to members to ensure all employees are vetted, this includes traceable references, current contact details, copies of IDs and as much relevant information as possible is kept on record.
Kwanalu also reminds members to ensure that the highest safety and security measures possible are in place, particularly during the festive season, and to remain vigilant at all times.
Kwanalu extends its deepest condolences to the family and farming community of Bishopstowe.
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