Murdered farming family may have been tortured

2014-03-04 00:00

GRIM details of how a Richmond family were allegedly tortured before they were killed at their smallholding have emerged.

Three members of the Schutte family were murdered over the weekend, at a time when the family had gathered to have a birthday celebration.

Yesterday, while police scoured the house for more clues, a volunteer team from SA Can and Careline cleaned the blood-splattered house before members of the Schutte family arrived.

A single bunch of flowers lay at the gate at the entrance to the property. While a family friend, who did not want to be named, asked The Witness to leave the scene, Richmond mayor Andrew Ragavaloo and a municipal delegation arrived there to offer their sympathies.

Pietermaritzburg businessman Stefan Schutte, who had gone to his parents’ farm to celebrate his father, Ekardt’s 77th birthday, made the gruesome discovery around lunchtime on Sunday.

He found the bodies of his 66-year-old mother Elizabeth and his 33-year-old brother Lutz in the main house while his father’s body was found later in a workshop on the farm.

Based on the severe injuries to the bodies of the three, sources said it was more than likely that they were tortured before they were killed.

Another sibling, Matthias, was due to arrive from London late last night.

Stefan refused to comment when approached yesterday.

Ragavaloo, who together with other dignitaries visited the Schutte farm yesterday, described the murders as savage.

“One can’t understand how a human being can treat another like this. It is senseless, heartless and cowardly,” said Ragavaloo.

He said the Richmond community was devastated by the murders.

“We strongly condemn this dastardly act of savagery and call upon the security forces to prioritise the apprehension of the perpetrators.

“We also appeal to the community to be on the lookout and report any suspicious behaviour that will assist the police in their search for these callous killers,” he said.

Ragavaloo described the Schuttes as genial, friendly and respectable residents of Richmond.

“My wife’s aunt Monica Stringer, who now lives in Johannesburg, was employed at their Springfield Meats business and they developed a strong relationship. When Monica and her family visited Richmond, she stayed with the Schutte family,” said Ragavaloo.

AfriForum’s community safety head Ian Cameron also condemned the murders, saying government’s silence on the increasing attacks on farmers was because government had failed to assist the farming community with security.

Cameron said they were now working with the provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni’s office to deal with the farm attacks.

AfriForum, he said, was offering their assistance to communities in central KwaZulu-Natal to establish safety structures which will safeguard farmers.

DA KZN leader Sizwe Mchunu said the murders confirmed the lack of proper rural policing in the province and reaffirmed the urgent need for the KZN Community Safety Bill to be tabled and adopted.

“An attack on a farmer and his family is an attack on every member of our province’s rural community.

“These brutal attacks are proof that there is a severe lack of visible policing within rural areas,” said Mchunu.

• Niyanta.Singh@witness.co.za

Grim details of how a Richmond family were allegedly tortured before they were killed at their smallholding have emerged.

Three members of the Schutte family were murdered over the weekend, at a time when the family had gathered to have a birthday celebration.

Yesterday, while police scoured the house for more clues, a volunteer team from SACAN and Careline, cleaned up the blood-splattered house before members of the Schutte family arrived.

A single bunch of flowers lay at the gate at the entrance to the property. While a family friend, who did not want to be named, asked The Witness to leave the scene, Richmond mayor Andrew Ragavaloo and a municipal delegation arrived there to offer their sympathies.

Pietermaritzburg businessman Stefan Schutte, who had gone to his parents’ farm to celebrate his father, Ekardt’s 77th birthday, made the gruesome discovery around lunchtime on Sunday.

He found the bodies of his 66-year-old mother Elizabeth and his 33-year-old brother Lutz in the main house while his father’s body was found later in a workshop on the farm.

Based on the severe injuries to the bodies of the three, sources said it was more than likely that they were tortured before they were killed.

Another sibling, Matthias, was due to arrive from London late last night.

Stefan Schutte refused to comment when approached yesterday.

Richmond mayor, Andrew Ragavaloo, who together with other dignitaries visited the Schutte farm yesterday described the murders as savage.

“One can’t understand how a human being can treat another like this. It is senseless, heartless and cowardly,” said Ragavaloo.

He said the Richmond community was devastated by the murders.

“We strongly condemn this dastardly act of savagery and call upon the security forces to prioritise the apprehension of the perpetrators. We also appeal to the community to be on the lookout and report any suspicious behaviour that will assist the police in their search for these callous killers,” he said.

Ragavaloo described the Schuttes as genial, friendly and respectable residents of Richmond.

“My wife’s aunt, Monica Stringer, who now lives in Johannesburg, was employed at their Springfield Meats business and they developed a strong relationship. When Monica and her family visited Richmond, she stayed with the Schutte family,” said Ragavaloo.

AfriForum’s community safety head Ian Cameron condemned the murders, saying government’s silence on the increasing attacks on farmers was because government had failed to assist the farming community with security.

Cameron said they were now working with the provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Mammonye Ngobeni’s office to deal with the farm attacks.

AfriForum, he said, was offering their assistance to communities in central KwaZulu-Natal to establish safety structures which will safeguard farmers.

DA KZN leader Sizwe Mchunu said the murders confirmed the lack of proper rural policing in the province and reaffirmed the urgent need for the KZN Community Safety Bill to be tabled and adopted.

“An attack on a farmer and his family is an attack on every member of our province’s rural community. These brutal attacks are proof that there is a severe lack of visible policing within rural areas,” said Mchunu.

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