Parys Farm attack – January 2016
72 year-old Free State farmer Loedie van der Westhuizen was attacked around 5.00pm in the corridor of his well-secured farm home by an armed intruder on Wednesday 6th January 2016. Van der Westhuizen from the farm Bessiesbult struggled with the intruder and received severe blows to the head. With a revolver to the farmers head the attacker demanded R20,000.00.
“It was a terrible feeling. He was looking for a safe with a lot of money” said van der Westhuizen. During the struggle the attacker called to his accomplice outside, but van der Westhuizen, although bleeding profusely was able to press the panic button and call his farm neighbour response unit. He told his attacker that help would be five minutes away.
By the time the attackers realized that they had only a few minutes before help arrived, there were 40 to 60 neighbouring farmers and townspeople on the way. These farmers came from afar as Heilbron and Koppies after receiving the call to assist van der Westhuizen.
The attackers fled through adjacent mealie fields but were cornered and confronted by the neighbour’s response group.
For several years the farmers have had an arrangement whereby they support each other in the event of farm attacks in the Parys area.
Both male intruders were injured in the confrontation and were still alive when the police took them into custody. Both were however declared dead on arrival at hospitals in Parys and Bloemfontein. As a result four members of six local farm families are now in trouble with the law and have been charged with murder.
One of those charged is Boeta, son of van der Westhuizen. “This is a terrible situation” said Annette van der Westhuizen a member of the family. “For us it is very difficult and heartbreaking” she said. She claimed that farmers live in constant fear for their lives and believe that any of them could be the next victim.
Boete van der Westhuizen spent the weekend in Jail at Parys along with three other farmers from the Parys grazing fraternity. The others were Johan Cilliers snr and his son Johan Cilliers jnr, also Anton Loggerenberg.
The four have briefed their legal advisers in the lead up to a bail application on Tuesday. Brig. Hangwani Mulaudzi spokesperson for the Hawks, said that the four had been charged with murder. The State will oppose bail.
Van der Westhuizen said he didn’t know the attackers. He lives alone just a few kilometers from the spot where Annatjie van Rooyen (76) was suffocated in her fridge in January 2013 and her husband Ernest (77) was also murdered at the time. It is also not far away from the place where the 40 year-old farmer Johan Strydom was murdered with an iron bar in 2010. He was later dragged behind his own Mazda bakkie.
Ernst Roets executive officer of Afriforum said that they had offered to pay the farmers legal costs. “The reality is that these farmers are part of the local community and live in fear and trepidation of attacks on their farms every day” he said.
Adv Christo Roberts, former snr State Advocate, who has been involved in similar cases, said that the State would have to prove that the farmers had the intention to kill the attackers. “People are terrified of farm attacks and when this happens, people will probably overreact” he said. “Judges cannot ignore this fact” he further explained.
Thanks to Rapport Newspaper for this story.