SAPS unit saluted for sterling work

2011-06-20 00:00

THE local farming community has nothing but high praise for the sterling work being done by a group of dedicated policemen attached to Pietermaritzburg’s Organised Crime Unit under the command of Colonel Piet Scott, who lay claim to a near 100 percent success rate in solving farm murders in the KZN Midlands since 2003.

Of the nineteen Midlands farm murder cases handled by the team dating back to the murder of Shaun Clark in the Camperdown district in July 2003, only one, arising from the murder of Flippie Buys in Weenen in September 2003, is classed as “unsolved”.

The unit arrested a total of 50 culprits in connection with the eighteen “solved” cases with 24 of the killers sentenced to life imprisonment and others receiving sentences ranging from an effective 30 years imprisonment to 18 years imprisonment.

One suspect who was being sought in connection with the murder of Charles Shepard in Bergville in December 2003, committed suicide before he could be arrested.

In addition, one of a number of men charged for the murder of David Varty of Rietvlei in March 2005, also died prior to conviction.

Five other men were jailed for life in connection with Varty’s murder.

Koos Marais of the security desk of the KwaZulu Natal Agricultural Union said the organisation and member farmers want to give credit to these highly skilled and dedicated police officers whose support he believes has also contributed to a drop in the murder rate of farmers in the province recently.

Marais said in 2002 Kwanalu recorded 18 murders in addition to 95 attacks on farms; in 2003 there were 91 farm attacks plus 20 murders; and in 2004 there were 70 farm attacks plus eight murders.

In 2010 the number of attacks on farms dropped to 39 in addition to 10 murders (with three people being killed in a single incident) and to date this year there have been only 14 attacks but no murders on farms in KZN, he said.

Marais said the solving rate by Scott’s group in the midlands was impressive:

“We’ve seen them in action and we get many calls from farmers saying what tremendous policemen they are.

“Their work does a lot to restore confidence in the police … They work very long hours under difficult circumstances. We can only salute them,” he added.

Of the cases that have been solved by the unit only two are still pending finalisation in the high court.

One of these relates to the murder of Rietvlei farmer Alan Rowe in May 2009, in respect of which five men are currently on trial in the Pietermaritzburg high court.

A former employee of Rowe, Sibonelo Duma, who is already serving a life sentence for his role in the murder is now a state witness in the case, which is set to resume again on June 30.

The other murder trial still pending is that of three men charged with the murders of Lorraine Karg and two farm employees, Hilda Linyane and Shayi Mhlongo in the Mooi River area in July 2010.

The “Karg” murder trial is due to get underway in the high court in Pietermaritzburg on September 19.

The midlands farm murder cases that have been solved by the team include the murders of Shaun Clark of Camperdown (2003); Johannes Bruwer (Camperdown, 2003); Parvathie Surapen (Thornville, 2003); Charles Shepard (Bergville, 2003); Norah Gevers (Wartburg, 2004); David Varty (Rietvlei, 2005); Trevor Weightman (Winterton, 2005); Jacky Chatterton (Boston, 2005); Eric Padolski (Cramond, 2006); Andrew Main (Cramond, 2007); David Green (Estcourt, 2007); Alan Rowe (Rietvlei, 2009); Erasmus Mncube (and attack on his employers, Collin and Nola Barrett at Nottingham Road in 2009); Warwick Dorning (Mpophomeni, 2009); Lynette Ralfe (Colenso, 2010); Lorraine Karg, Hilda Linyane and Shayi Mhlongo (Mooi River, 2010) and Rakhesh Anandlal (Cramond, 2010).

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan, said the management of the SAPF commends Colonel Scott and the unit for their “sterling investigation and their dedication to duty”.

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