Farmers forced to catch attackers

2010-09-23 20:32

Lephalale - Farmers in Limpopo have condemned the police's slow response to a farm attack that took place near Marken on Sunday.

Instead, it was the farmers who ended up catching the suspects.

A farmer and his wife, both 66 years old, were attacked by three men who threatened them with a knife.

The farmer was tied up in an outside toilet while his wife was raped by all three attackers.

Spokesperson for the Transvaal Agricultural Union's northern branch (TAU-SA North), Dries Joubert, said "as usual" farmers were first on the scene after the farmer managed to untie himself and call for help.

"The landline of the Villa Nora police precinct has been out of order and the police gave us a cellphone number to report crime," said Joubert.

The cellphone number was not answered on Sunday, however.

Joubert said one of the union's members then phoned the station commander on his personal cellphone.

"The police arrived on the farm about two hours later, while the farm is only 35km from the police station," Joubert said.

Joubert said members of TAU-SA North eventually caught the attackers near the farm and handed them over to the police once the police arrived.

No delay

Lephalale police spokesperson Frans Mokoena said on Thursday that the Villa Nora precinct used only one telephone line, which would ring unanswered if the operator was busy on it.

"The phone may ring without being answered, leading people to think that the police do not want to answer," he said.

Mokoena insisted the police responded to the farmers' call without delay.

"The reason the farmers think we were slow in responding is that perhaps our members were searching for the suspects in a different area from where the farmers were,” he said.

Meanwhile, the three suspects were remanded in custody when they appeared in the Mokopane Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

They will appear in the Mookgopong courts on September 30.

“They have been transferred there so they can be close to the serious and violent crime unit, which is investigating the case,” Mokoena said.