Police in the Free State have launched a manhunt for an unknown number of suspects after the lifeless bodies of seven farmworkers – six women and a young man – were found on the farm Lismor in the Kestell District. Police suspect the farmworkers were shot and killed on Friday, 15 July 2022.
According to a police statement, the bodies of the farmworkers were discovered inside their house on the farm by the owner of the farm. The names of the deceased and their ages are not yet known.
While details of the murders remain unclear, provincial police commissioner Baile Motswenyane said she had instructed her team to work around the clock to bring the perpetrators to book. “Let me warn the perpetrators that they can run but ultimately the mighty hand of the law will catch up with them.”
The agricultural community in the province is reeling in shock after news of the latest farm murder spread far and wide.
Senseless killing condemned
Free State agriculture MEC Thembeni Nxangisa said the killing of six women and a young man was a huge shock. “I am disgusted and sickened by the callous murder of these farmworkers. I also call upon the law enforcement agencies to work around the clock to arrest whoever has done this.”
Nxangisa said that he would visit the farm in the coming week.
Dr Jane Buys, a safety and risk analyst at Free State Agriculture (FSA), also condemned the farm murder and called for the perpetrators to be brought to book.
“We do not know who the deceased are because some of their next of kin was not yet informed, however, we condemn the brutal killing very strongly whereby innocent people on a farm were killed.”
“We sincerely hope that police will follow up all leads, that they will arrest the perpetrators and that [the perpetrators] will receive very harsh sentences in court for perpetrating such brutal murders and violence acts,” said Buys.
Government wants justice
The killings come shortly after a two-day rural safety summit held in the Free State on Monday, 27 June this year. During the summit, police minister Bheki Cele and the South African Police Service were lobbied to step up their efforts on rural security. At the end of the summit, a clear way forward for addressing rural crime had not been established but a task team was formed to come up with an action plan to implement the national rural safety strategy.
Petrus Sitho from the organisation PPS stop farm murders, has called on the farming community to join hands in the fight against crime on farms. He also called on the national government to prioritise farm murders as these senseless crimes were escalating, Sitho said.
“This is not based on race, but a ticking bomb for all farmers and farmworkers. All of us our lives are in danger.”
Meanwhile, police commissioner Motswenyane has called on anyone with information on these murders to contact Colonel Ben Bolsiek of the Provincial Organised Crime unit at 082 466 8530. He will be leading the investigating team. Information can also be shared via the Crime Stop line on 08 600 10111. Information can also be provided via the MySAPS App.
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