KZN farm attack in UK press

2010-03-29 00:00

ANOTHER South African tragedy has made international headlines. The British Sunday Telegraph yesterday ran a story linking the singing of “shoot the boer” to the murder of Lynette Ralfe and the shooting of her husband Nigel on their farm near Estcourt two weeks ago.

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema sung Ayesaba Amagwala, which contains the phrase dubul’ibhunu (shoot the boer), at a student rally the previous week. The Ralfe murder was one of three farm murders on the weekend that followed.

At the time of the attack, Ralfe (69) was sitting in the office of his farm, Doornkop, which his family has owned since the first decade of the 20th century. “I was reading an old Farmer’s Weekly magazine when six men came in asking to buy milk,” he told the Telegraph. “I told them I didn’t have any to sell. They asked me for money, I told them I didn’t have any. One of them had a gun and then the next thing I knew he had shot me. I was shot in the neck and the arm. They hit me with the gun, kicked me and threatened to stab me.”

Ralfe was then manhandled and taken to the main house. Inside his wife Lynette (63) was bathing her three grand-daughters, aged four, three and one-and-a-half. “When we got to the back door it was locked,” Ralfe said. “They told me to call her to come and open it, which she did. As soon as she opened it, they shot her three times. She didn’t even have time to speak. She was bleeding from her chest and went into the bedroom. That’s where she died.

“The guys were going through the house, looking for money. The children came out and were very confused and upset and kept asking me what was wrong with granny. I told them to go to the other bedroom, shut the door and stay in their beds. Luckily they listened to me. Eventually the guys left with a toy laptop computer, a pair of binoculars, a phone and an old pistol.”

Ralfe was admitted to Pietermaritzburg’s Medi-Clinic in a critical condition. He is now back at his farm and recovering from his injuries. “The wound to my neck is healing,” he told The Witness yesterday.

“The stitches should come out in a couple of days’ time. But I have lost the use of my right hand and the bone in my upper arm has been replaced from shoulder to elbow with a steel pin, as it was blown to pieces.”

Ralfe says his grand-daughters were as “good as they could be under the circumstances, but they are traumatised”.

Ralfe has no plans to move from the farm, but intends to “keep working, keep going — what else can I do? But I am going to have to be a lot more careful and now I am going to carry a gun with me for protection.

“I made a mistake this time. Next time I’ll keep a sharper look out. If I move to Pietermaritzburg or Durban, I could just as well get hijacked and shot. We are living in an unruly country. You can’t run away from the place where you live and grew up. We are caught between a rock and a hard place.”

Since the attack, two men have been arrested and charged. Dumisani Hadebe (27) and Bhekinkosi Mchunu (29) were found in possession of a firearm stolen from the farm during the robbery.

Their case has been adjourned to April 1. Four other suspects are still at large.

Last Friday the high court in Pretoria ruled it illegal and unconstitutional to use the phrase dubul’ibhunu (shoot the boer).

The ANC intends to appeal the decision.

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