Christmas miracles on farms

2015-12-28 11:01


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Pietermaritzburg - A Christms miracle was seemingly bestowed on two farming families who escaped with their lives when they were attacked at gunpoint last week.

The families, attacked separately the day before Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day on their farms in Ladysmith and Tala Valley respectively, are two of four known farming homesteads ­targeted in the past two weeks.

The armed robbers in both attacks used a similar modus operandi, threatening their victims with firearms before binding and assaulting them.

Both gangs demanded cash and guns from safes on the properties.

In the first incident on Wednesday night, a group of men broke into a house on a farm in Tala Valley and attacked the homeowner.

It is believed the men cut through burglar guards and entered through a window left ajar, before ­confronting the homeowner with a gun.

The man was then forced to open the main door for the rest of the gang, who tied him up and ­assaulted him with the butt of the gun.

When the robbers found nothing in the safe, they stole electronic items and clothes before speeding off in the man’s vehicle.

After receiving a distress call, Magma Security director Shaheen Suleiman said his men ­immediately picked up the chase and, with help from the local police, managed to trace and recover the vehicle near Inchanga.

The hunt is still on for the men.

On Christmas morning, just after 9 am, Eddie Oates (54) and his wife Marion were attacked on their farm in the Besters area near Ladysmith.

It is alleged a gunman tried to shoot and kill Oates, pointing the gun at his head and firing. The gun misfired and the men fled the scene.

According to Roland Henderson, a local farmer who manages the security for neighbouring farms in the Besters area, and who spoke to The Witness on behalf of the family yesterday, two men approached the couple while they were getting ready to visit family.

Armed with a pistol, the men bound Oates’s hands and forced him to open the safe by repeatedly striking his head with the butt of the gun.

Marion was also assaulted with the firearm ­during the frenzy.

The men escaped on foot with two air rifles from the safe and a small amount of cash. The ordeal lasted about half an hour.

It is believed the men had a getaway vehicle ­waiting for them on the N3, about one kilometre from the farmhouse.

However, quick work from neighbouring ­farmers who teamed up with police stopped the robbers from reaching the vehicle.

Henderson said Marion had reported the ­incident over the radio, alerting other farmers and authorities while her husband got into his vehicle and chased after the robbers.

The chase was then joined by Ladysmith police and neighbouring farmers, who surrounded the robbers in a “patch of long grass”.

Both men were arrested and the two stolen air rifles as well as their own handgun were recovered.

The couple were taken to the La Verna Hospital for medical treatment after the incident.

Over the past two weeks, The Witness has ­reported similar attacks on farmers in the Greytown and Nottingham Road areas.

On Saturday, December 19, Joe Fabian was ­murdered at the home he rented on a Greytown farm. His attackers, three men, made his wife Cathy beg for her life before leaving her unscathed.

On Tuesday, December 15, couple Thomas and Cynthia Hartley were attacked, also by three men, on their cattle ranch at Nottingham Road.

KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union security desk manager Koos Marais yesterday expressed his ­concern at yet another attack on farmers in the Midlands area.

“The fact that the robbers are now attacking during daylight shows their arrogance. We again ask farmers to take extreme precautions at this time of the year and to be alert at all times,” he said.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  farm attack

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