The National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Khehla John Sitole has welcomed the arrest of four suspects following their alleged involvement in the robbery, kidnapping and murder of three members of the Brand family on a farm in Magogong just outside Hartswater in the Northern Cape, South Africa. UPDATE: The bodies of the missing Brand family couple have been found.
SAPS said in a statement that it is believed that a group of people attacked the family on Sunday 26 July 2020. The family has been named as retired farmers Daniel Brand (known as Danie, 83) and his wife Hybrecht (known as Breggie, 79), and their 50-year-old daughter Elizabeth (known by her pet name Elzabie), who was apparently visiting for lunch. According to the SAPS the incident was reported to the police yesterday (Monday) after a family member, residing in Johannesburg, suspected that something was wrong when he was unable to get in touch with his parents and sister since Sunday, according to the SAPS.
However a spokesman for Afriforum, Marius Muller, said: “The fears of relatives that all three had come to harm was reported to the local police station on Sunday but it appears that absolutely nothing was done about it.
“It was only when those worried relatives travelled down on Monday themselves that they found effectively a crime scene with the house ransacked and the blood stains inside.
“Who knows if the police acted immediately on Sunday then lives could have been saved? Those who run this country have to wake up to what is happening and protect farmers.”
Once the crime scene was reported, SA Police immediately mobilised the 72-hour Activation Plan… which included the deployment of Crime Intelligence, Forensic Experts, Detective Services and other supporting units (AfriForum neighbourhood watches and community structures). A massive search was launched which resulted in one of the stolen cars, Danie’s Nissan Micra being found abandoned at Majaneng village, Taung in North West province last night (Monday).
With the search continuing in the Northern Cape, the second vehicle, Breggie’s stolen Grey Mazda CX5 was spotted by AfriForum’s Hartswater neighbourhood watch in the area of Pudimoe, being driven by a woman with two male passengers. AfriForum said its watch noticed a suspicious vehicle on the road just before 23h00 last night and reported it to the national control room.
“After various checks with the help of the SAPS, it was established that the number plates on the vehicle were false and do not exist. Local police were called in to assist, stopping the vehicle and arresting suspects, who eventually pointed out the location of one of the victims’ bodies,” said AfriForum in a statement on Tuesday. The suspects include a woman of 42 years of age and two males aged 18 and 19 years old.
Follow-up investigations were conducted throughout the night and in the early hours of this morning Elzabie’s body was found by a drone operator in a field in the Takaneng Village in Taung. She had been murdered but the cause of death is yet to be determined, said SAPS. A member of the police search and rescue team said finding her body was “extremely distressing” due to its condition. Unfortunately, due to the rugged terrain and darkness, they could not find the location of the other two and continue their search – including aerial support with helicopters – today.
It is understood that two of the gang pointed out the rough area where they had dumped Elzabie and told police her mother and father were left hanging dead from a tree nearby.
A source close to the investigation said: “From the statements we have taken it is clear the mother and father and the daughter were all three kidnapped and later brutally murdered.
“We have found the daughter but the area where it would appear the mother and father were left is remote and we are still looking for their bodies with a team of searchers.
“You can only image the terror these poor people went through in their last hours and there was no need to kill them they could have just robbed them if that was what the motive was.
“They stole just the two cars and a few cell phones and a bit of jewellery and cash,” he said.
Father-of-three Danie, ran a water production scheme on their smallholding that supplied the local area.
Breggie went to school in England according to her Facebook page, going to The Grove School in Milton Keynes, but moved to South Africa after she finished her education.
National police spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said: “I can confirm that one woman was murdered and we are still looking for the two missing persons. It would seem that the motive for what happened here was robbery.”
In the meantime, police arrested a fourth suspect – aged 20 – on Tuesday morning at around 11am.
Portfolio Committee: Suspects must face full might of the law
The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has commended the swift action of the police in making the arrests. Committee Chairperson Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela emphasised that the suspects must face the full might of the law.
“Our justice system must send out a strong message that there is no place in our democracy for such callous and inhumane acts. We appeal to the SAPS to leave no stone unturned to find the missing couple and to bring the alleged perpetrators of this heinous crime to book.
“We have repeatedly condemned attacks on farms and farmers as acts of gross criminality that is detrimental to the social cohesion that our young democracy needs,” Mandela said.
Mandela has expressed heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the victims.
He also appealed to farmers, farm-dwellers and rural communities to always be on the alert and to raise awareness of this troubling phenomenon, and to assist in intelligence gathering that may assist in reducing the incidents of violent crime on farms.
“We applaud SAPS for its swift response and trust that the early breakthrough in the arrest of suspects sends a strong message to others that crime does not pay and that the full weight of the law shall come down hard on perpetrators of such senseless acts,” the Chairperson said.
DA Asks: “Mr President, will you ignore the Brand family farm attack, too?”
Dianne Kohler Barnard – Chairperson of the DA Rural Safety Workstream – said in a statement titled ‘Mr President, will you ignore the Brand family farm attack, too’ on Tuesday: “This is exactly the sort of attack the DA has been insisting the Government take seriously, despite the President claiming that no farmers are being killed in South Africa.
“A month ago we launched a 16-point plan to focus on rural attacks on farms and small holdings, which have seen the terrible murders of farmers, farm workers, their wives, parents and children, as well as visitors to farms.”
Yesterday the DA launched its #StopFarmAttacks petition websites which contain an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa urging him to apologize for his past denial of farm murders in South Africa and calling on him to take urgent action in response to farm attacks.
“We urge all South Africans to visit these websites and co-sign the open letter to President Ramaphosa, calling on him to address the plight of farmers and farming communities,” said Kohler Barnard.
“At the same time, we can confirm that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, acceded to the DA’s request for a Debate of National Importance on the scourge of farm attacks and murders across the nation; we have launched a national Watching Brief team to stand by the sides of victims as they go through the Police and Court processes; and reported all vicious social media posts celebrating these heinous murders, to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).”
She says farm attacks and murders must be taken as seriously as gender-based violence (GBV), and highly trained specialized units must patrol and prevent these attacks before they occur.
“Farmers, farm workers, and their families, who work 24/7 to put food on our tables, also have the right to live and work in safety,” she said.
AfriForum Saddened by Triple Farm Murder
AfriForum said it is “saddened by the triple farm murder”, but proud that its Hartswater and Vryburg neighbourhood watches successfully assisted local police and other community safety groups during the search for the victims and suspects last night.
The Vryburg neighbourhood watch was able to bring in their drone to help with the search. “Effective communication between the drone team with their eye in the sky and other teams on the ground assisted the search tremendously. This is a fantastic, yet tragic, example of how communities can assist each other in times of need and help keep each other safe,” says Joseph Renaud, AfriForum’s Head of Community Safety for the central region.
“Although our neighbourhood watch members were the lucky ones, in a sense, to identify the suspicious vehicle, one should not underestimate the importance of all the other community safety structures and the SAPS. It was teamwork that ensured that answers could be provided to shocked and traumatised family members within 48 hours of the crime being committed,” says Thomas van Dalen, AfriForum’s Acting Head of Community Safety for the southern region.
South Africa is unfortunately known as one of the crime hots spots of the world with 58 murders everyday adding up to over 21,000 each year – though farm murders amount to much less with about 75 a year.
However statistics show it is four times more dangerous to live on a farm in South Africa than anywhere else in the country, according to Kohler Barnard.
SAPS is appealing to anyone who may have any information on the whereabouts of the elderly couple to please contact the SAPS on the Crime Stop number 086 00 10111. Information may also be provided via the MySAPSApp. All information will be treated with strictest confidence and callers may remain anonymous.
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