Two suspects have been arrested for robbery and the brutal murder of 68-year-old farmer, Frans Venter, who was killed at his farm in Modderfontein, near Rustenburg, on Wednesday morning, 21 September 2022.
As the community mourns the shocking killing, the South African Police Service (SAPS) issued a statement on Thursday afternoon about the arrests. SAPS confirmed that the suspects – believed to be in their ’20s – were caught on Wednesday thanks to a collaboration between neighbouring farmers, security company officials and the police.
The attack happened shortly after the farmer’s life partner left for work. Venter, a popular member of the community who has been described by many as “big-hearted”, was at home with two workers, a gardener and a domestic worker when four suspects attacked them.
Police said they first overpowered the gardener, who was working in the garden. He shouted for help, but was tied up with electrical cable. The domestic worker responded upon hearing his screams, but was then also overpowered and tied up.
“Lastly the suspects proceeded and gained entry into the house and overpowered Mr Venter,” said SAPS. “He was severely assaulted and stabbed to death.”
According to several reports, including a statement from the Democratic Aliance (DA), “the farmer was hacked to death with pangas before his house was ransacked by the perpetrators”.
SAPS said numerous items were stolen before the suspects fled on foot.
“One of the workers managed to escape and ran to a neighbour for help. Neighbouring farmers and the police were immediately alerted of the incident. A private person arranged for air support with a chopper, and numerous farmers as well as security personnel joined in a search for the suspects,” said SAPS.
The first suspect was spotted and arrested by a security company official and handed over to the police. A short while later, police spotted the second suspect and arrested him.
The suspects were found in possession of cellphones, a clap pistol with blank rounds, a BB gun as well as a bag containing items stolen from the farm.
Both suspects will appear in the Rustenburg Magistrates’ Court on Friday, 23 September 2022, on charges of murder and house robbery. Two other suspects are still on the loose.
The Provincial Commissioner of North West, Lieutenant General Sello Kwena, emphasised that SAPS will continue working hard to ensure all perpetrators are arrested.
Kwena also pointed out that to succeed at solving crime, the police need the community’s assistance. He also thanked the neighbouring farmers and security company officials for their assistance that led to the arrests.
The DA’s Gavin Edwards – DA North West Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development – said the attack was reported at around 10am.
According to the DA one of the suspects was detained for being in the country illegally.
“The DA would like to applaud the swift response by private security as well as the South African Police for affecting arrests, however this incident is a clear example of the failure of the SAPS in this province to implement a rural safety plan,” said Edwards.
“Our condolences go to the family of the farmer. The DA will monitor this case closely and implores that justice is served.
“Rural communities are at great risk of crime due to their isolation. Stock theft saw a 10% increase in the last quarter compared to the same period the previous year, and many of the perpetrators go unabated. To combat farm attacks, theft and murder, more police resources need to be directed towards rural communities.
“Crime has spiralled out of control in the North West, with Rustenburg Police station recording a 6.7% increase in serious crimes reported.”
Friends of PFJ Venter (Frans) said on social media that he had retired, and that his farm was called Rocky Ridge. It is situated between Buffelspoort Dam and Kroondal.
A heartbroken relative – Annemie Bernardo – who used to live near Venter’s home, but now lives in Canada, posted photos and said: “In loving memory of Frans Venter, he was a legend, a man loved by so many, but thanks to Farm murders in South Africa we lost this man at 9 this morning 😢 and now it’s not just someone we read about it, (it) was our family.”