Richmond farming couple injured as they fight off intruders

2009-11-30 00:00

A PROMINENT Richmond farmer and his wife are recovering in a city hospital after fighting for their lives against three knife-wielding intruders who attacked them in their farmhouse in the early hours of yesterday morning and made off with cash, cellphones and firearms.

It was the second traumatic incident this month for Anthony and Carol Morris of Maywood Farm near Richmond: the couple were hijacked at gunpoint and robbed of their vehicle at their farmhouse gate when returning from a Bible study meeting two weeks ago. On that occasion, the couple managed to escape unharmed.

But in yesterday’s early morning assault, both the Morrises sustained significant stab wounds, one of which pierced 64-year-old Anthony Morris’s lung.

His 62-year-old wife was also struck heavily over one eye.

The couple’s daughter, Kerry Peckham, whose husband Adrian was one of the first people on the scene of the attack, said the pair were forced to fight for their lives after one of the intruders tried to strangle her father.

Peckham described her parents as “the most gentle of people”, who went out of their way to assist the local black community and farmers.

The couple have worked on Maywood for over 38 years and have good relations with their workers, she added.

“The community is shocked ... it’s very difficult to understand how this could happen,” she told The Witness.

Peckham, who lives about five kilometres from her parents, said the couple were woken in the middle of the night by the sound of glass breaking and dogs barking. Police said the three men appear to have gained access through a window in a sun room.

After demanding access to the household safe, the robbers made off with about R10 000 in cash and three firearms: a 12-bore shotgun; .38 special revolver and a .22 rifle. They also demanded keys to the couple’s vehicle, but fled on foot after they couldn’t drive the car beyond the locked gate.

Peckham said help was summoned after her father freed himself and fled to another house on the property.

She described her parents’ narrow escape as a miracle and said she believes her parents were protected in both attacks by God and prayer. She said her father prayed out loud during both incidents.

“We have received incredible support from all the farmers and the prayer chains have been amazing,” she said.

A hospital spokesperson said the couple were “stable” and were recovering in a ward. However, Peckham said her father had difficulty breathing.

Police spokesman Senior Inspector Henry Budhram said the motive at this early stage of the investigations appears to be robbery. There had been no arrests as of midday yesterday.

Koos Marais of the KZN Agricultural Union security desk said the organisation is concerned about an increase in farm attacks and called for an improvement in visible policing in rural areas.

“How does the government expect to protect 500 000 visitors for 2010 when they can’t protect their citizens? We look forward to arrests in this matter,” he said.

A neighbouring farmer who asked to remain anonymous said this was the first attack in the area in a long time.

“It’s too soon to tell how the community will respond to this, but obviously we will have to look into security issues,” he said yesterday.

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