A 77-year-old farm foreman survived a night of torture that saw him stabbed, kicked and almost drowned in a septic tank in a farm attack near Zastron in the Free State.
Simon Makhotha was taken by surprise on the Harrisdale farm at around 20:00 on Sunday, 17 January 2021. Three assailants assaulted and stabbed him and later tied him up while they plundered the farmhouse.
The attackers, who are still at large, then tried to drown the elderly foreman by putting his head in a septic tank; kicking and stoning him to keep his head under the sewage water.
Foreman tortured for hours
Farm owner Sonwabisi Galawe, who lives in Cape Town, expressed his shock when contacted by Food For Mzansi.
Galawe entrusted Makhotha as caretaker in 2018 when he bought the land. “I feel terrible. How can people think of doing such a thing?” he says.
After hours of torture, the elderly Makhota succeeded in freeing himself in the early hours of Monday morning. He was found by neighbours and admitted to a local hospital.
Free State Agriculture (FSA) has strongly condemned the attack. FSA safety representative in the Zastron area, Martin de Kock, says the attack has shaken the farming community.
“All persons living and working on farms are exposed to the growing danger of crime in the rural areas,” he says.
De Kock adds that local police were allegedly unable to get to the scene of the crime “as no vehicles were available.”
According to FSA vice president Tommie Esterhuyse the lack of resources and police vehicles in rural areas are a chronic problem that needs urgent intervention from government.
He says discussions with the South African Human Rights Commission commenced this week addressing the lack of implementation of the national rural safety strategy.
“This contributes greatly to low defensibility in rural communities. Government departments need to get their house in order to ensure safety for communities as well as provide them with the necessary services.
“Although FSA continues to call on police and government to ensure that police stations are fully equipped, it is increasingly clear that the farming community is on their own,” Esterhuyse says.