'We are not vengeful but they need to be off the streets': Family of elderly KZN man tortured, killed

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Hans and Sheila Venter.
Hans and Sheila Venter.
  • Hans Venter, 84, a resident in the Seven Oaks area in Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal, has been described as a kind man who was a stalwart in his community.
  • Venter was brutally attacked and murdered by robbers who overpowered him and his wife Sheila on their farm.
  • His son-in-law Steve Stamp said the family was struggling to come to terms with their loss.

The family of an elderly man who was tortured and killed in front of his wife in KwaZulu-Natal say they don't want revenge but want his assailants taken off the streets, so it doesn't happen again.

Hans Venter, 84, was killed by house robbers who entered his Seven Oaks farm home in Greytown on 20 November, overpowering him and his wife Sheila and ransacking the home.

Eight suspects were tracked by police and local security company Magma, resulting in the arrest of six suspects. Two suspects were shot and killed during the confrontation.

Steve Stamp, Venter's son-in-law, said the family just wanted those responsible to be removed from society.

READ | Police kill two suspects, arrest six linked to murder of 84-year-old Greytown man

"That is our only wish. We are not vengeful people, but they need to be off the streets. They are bad for the country in every way."

Stamp said that while the brutality of Venter's death was deeply hurtful, the family had come together to comfort one another.

"The emotions [ran] high as a family managing the anger, hurt and pain. The incident was brutal and tragic, and we still have those emotions to work through, but we are not a family who dwells on the negative despite how negative this is. If we do, we will never come out of this hole," he said on Thursday.

And while the family was trying to move forward, Stamp acknowledged that it was easier said than done.

"It is tough. But we are a family that comes from a strong sense of faith and, out of this, we have to believe some good will come of this."

The tragedy was a "balancing beam" for the family to manage, Venter said.

"Despite the tragedy of it, the support, love, and understanding that has come through from thousands of people makes us think: will we let our lives be ruined by eight inhumane people without a soul, or are we going [to] take the positives of the thousands of people we know?

"It would sadden Hans if he were to hear that the family made an exodus out of the country on the back of many common negative sentiments," he said.

Stamp said:

We cannot allow a bunch of heartless inhumane individuals who disrupted the life of a wonderful couple who are everything good, to win. As a couple, Hans and Sheila were always so in love and an example for us. They were blissfully happy until Hans' life was tragically taken that night.

He described Venter as a man with compassion, humility, kindness and love.

"He had a patience and gentleness about him. That sums up how both he and Sheila have always been."

Wife dealing with the loss

Stamp said Venter's wife Sheila was "unbelievably strong in dealing with her emotions".

Stamp's wife was first on scene.

"Those images are something you don't want anyone to see."

Stamp said that during the incident, the couple were treated as subhuman.

"They were beaten and tossed under a mattress as the assailants went through all their belongings. Hans and Sheila were like a table where unwanted things were dumped on."

He was appalled at the attackers, saying: "You cannot believe that the human race has people like this."

He commended his mother-in-law for still being positive "despite the hurt and burden".

"Her only real wish is that the culprits are brought to book, not for revenge, but so no one else has to endure what has happened to our family."

Updates on legal aspect

Stamp said his wife was at the police on Wednesday identifying some of the stolen items.

He lauded the work by police, and made a special mention of Magma Security, a private security company that was pivotal in the investigation and arrest of the suspects.

"They stepped in despite not even being contracted to our area."

The six suspects, aged between 22 and 38, were arrested for murder, attempted murder and robbery.

Two flat-screen televisions, a cellphone and jewellery belonging to Venter were recovered along with a firearm, knives, a crowbar, gloves, and balaclavas.

Police said the suspects will be profiled to check if they are linked to other serious and violent cases in Greytown and surrounding areas.

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