Lenize Taljaard misses the love of her life every day.
The arrest of seven suspects hasn’t brought her any comfort, she says, adding that she’ll probably never find peace, even if someone is made to pay for her partner’s death.
Farmworker Brendin Horner (22) was killed on 2 October 2020 near Paul Roux in the Free State in a crime believed to be linked to livestock theft syndicates and police corruption.
The Free State Falcons, in conjunction with the Saps’ tactical unit and detectives, have arrested seven people – five of them police officers – during an operation to curb the rampant stock theft in the province.
When Brendin was killed, local farmers and community members were adamant that Sekwetje Mahlamba and Sekola Matlaletsa, who were arrested for the murder, hadn’t acted alone. The two men were released on bail in June after DNA evidence failed to link them to the crime.
A report indicating that corruption and stock theft might have been behind Brendin’s murder was handed to police minister Bheki Cele. This was followed by the recent arrests.
Lenize says she’s grateful for the progress in the case and that more people have been arrested “but nothing will bring Brendin back”.
“Some days are better than others, but the longing is incredibly difficult. I struggle most with trying to understand how anyone can just decide to end another person’s life.”
She’s trying to find comfort in the fact that Brendin would’ve wanted her to “stand up and fight back”, she says.
“I try to find strength in my faith but it’s not always that simple. There are many questions about exactly what happened on the day of Brendin’s murder and I think I’ll only be able to truly move on once they’ve been answered. But every day, I pick myself up – I know it’s what Brendin would’ve wanted me to do.”
Police spokesperson Captain Christopher Singo says the latest arrests aren’t the final tally of the ongoing investigation. He says the suspects haven’t yet been connected to Brendin’s murder.
“The investigation is ongoing and we need to wait and see what else we find,” he said. “We believe the second breakthrough will happen in a shorter time than the first.”
The suspects have been charged with theft of livestock, perjury and defeating the ends of justice.
But her hurt is still very raw. “Every time you think you’re okay now, something opens the wounds. I might read something somewhere and get emotional again.
“So, my answer is this: yes, I’m grateful that there’s renewed momentum in the case and at the prospect of justice, but the news of the arrests is also a painful reminder of Brendin’s horrific death.”