Farm manager killed in dawn ambush

2013-07-29 13:19
(Picture: News24)

(Picture: News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - A Wartburg farm manager was killed before sunrise on Saturday morning - ambushed, shot and left to die. Co-workers have battled to find any evidence that could explain what happened to popular farm manager George Fakude, 46.

As he left his home at 05:30 to collect the labourers for work, his killers waited in the dark for him. A single shot through the chest and lungs caused massive internal haemorrhaging.

Desperately injured, Fakude tried to drive the farm bakkie into a sugarcane field, hoping to escape as they fired a volley of bullets after him.

Tried to call for help

Evidence shows that a dying Fakude had frantically tried to call for help on his cellphone, but failed because of the poor reception on the farm. The farm radio lay silent beside his cold hand.

Thirty minutes later his boss found him, already dead. Chris Duvenage made the gruesome discovery on his way out to find the farm labourers. He noticed the lights of a car in the middle of the sugarcane field.

He told The Witness: “My first thought was that some idiot had driven through my field and messed it up, but as we came closer we saw that it was George’s bakkie and we knew something was wrong.

“We ran to the car and couldn’t open the door, but when we opened the passenger door we found him lying on the seat, covered in blood. We felt for a pulse, but it was too late. He was dead. One of the tractor drivers told me later that he had received a call from Fakude shortly after he left the farm at 05:30, but when he tried to return the call, the cellphone went to voicemail.”

Fakude’s death has shocked the close-knit farming community, who have no idea why he would be the target of criminals. Duvenage, who owns St Paul’s farm, which Fakude managed, said Fakude was a very friendly man who was well liked in the area.

“We want to know why this happened. If it was a hijacking, then they made no attempt to take the bakkie, and it was not a new bakkie. It seems like they knew his routine was to go out at 05:30 on Saturday to collect the labourers and they deliberately waited for him.

“From the bullet wound, it looks like he got out of the bakkie to speak to some people who were parked on the road. This indicates that maybe he knew the attackers. But we are surmising all of this.”

Duvenage, who lives next door to Fakude, said he had heard a faint bang that sounded like a shot earlier, but had not thought anything of it because they often heard similar noises from the sugarcane trailers going over bumps.

“I did not hear the other shots that were fired. I heard him leave and I got up at 06:00 to get the machines ready and fill them with diesel. I had no idea this tragedy was waiting to unfold. We are shocked and devastated.”

Police

Wartburg police were called to the scene and, said Duvenage, arrived hours later. He said he had used gloves to mark the spent bullet casings at the scene, and when the police finally arrived they drove all over the evidence.

“They had no clue how to preserve evidence or secure a crime scene. It makes me angry, because we need to find whoever did this.”

He said Fakude had worked at St Paul’s for 12 years and had been a good worker and reliable assistant. He was married and had family in Stanger and Swayimane.

Duvenage said they had sent their security liaison to inform the family and to facilitate funeral arrangements.

A Wartburg resident, who did not want to be named, said there had been two brutal incidents in the area recently, leading people to speculate that a group of thugs were operating.

A couple in Swayimane had been beaten, and the husband shot and stabbed. While his friend took him to hospital, his wife was raped. In nearby Greytown last month, two men were beaten and their bakkie was hijacked. They were then left at the edge of a cliff.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said police were following all leads. She appealed to anyone with information on the incident to contact station commander Pumlani Zondi at 082 4185030.

Attempts to contact Fakude’s family were unsuccessful.

 
Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  farm attacks

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