What was the motive behind Stellenbosch farmer's murder?

2019-06-09 21:02
Stefan and Zurenah Smit (Rapport)

Stefan and Zurenah Smit (Rapport)

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Many questions remain about the motive behind Stellenbosch farmer Stefan Smit's murder, with detectives reportedly not convinced that it was linked to the earlier occupation of his land.

Smit was killed at his home on the Louiesenhof farm a week ago in an apparent robbery, with detectives soon seen scouring the property for clues.

Police said at the time that four armed men entered his home through an unlocked door and shot him.

"His wife and a family friend, who were present at the time of the incident, survived the attack. The suspects fled with personal belongings and have not yet been arrested," said Lieutenant Colonel André Traut.

His killers somehow managed to bypass security measures such as a double fencing system with electric fence and barbed wire.

No arrests have yet been made and police continue with their investigations, said Traut on Sunday.

According to Rapport, detectives had not found the common signs of a "usual farm attack", nor anything to indicate that it was linked to the occupation of Smit's land. 

Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer previously indicated that there was no link between the murder and the sale of Watergang, next to Louiesenhof, which Smit's family owned via a trust.

Watergang was occupied last year by backyarders from nearby Kayamandi who renamed it Azania. Following an application for an interdict to remove them, the municipality eventually bought the land from the owners at R45 710 000.

The funds used to purchase the property came from a provincial human settlements department grant.

Stellenbosch Mayor Gesie van Deventer indicated the property was in the process of being transferred to the municipality.

Community leader Midas Wanana said Smit’s murder had shocked Azania’s residents. "It is very painful for us. We have sent our condolences to his family. What are they going to do without him?"

Johanna Petersen, who worked for Smit for 21 years, wondered who had "kept the door open" for his killers as he was very strict about closing the back door behind him, she told Rapport.

Smit's best friend Pieter Haasbroek, told Sunday Times that R200 000 had disappeared from Smit's safe a few weeks before his death.

A reliable source who feared being identified believed the murder could have been linked to the missing money, the newspaper reported.

Traut told News24 on Sunday that they had no record of that theft case.

Family friend John Houston told the Mail & Guardian that the motive could have been a farm murder, a robbery or vindictive action in connection with the land occupation.

The provincial government has called for the establishment of a rural safety unit and safety summit.

The police are asking anybody who has information about the case to contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

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