Elderly woman raped on KZN farm

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Durban - A 73-year-old farmer’s wife who was raped and robbed by a stranger on February 16 – after making a sandwich for him – was “doing fine”, her husband said on Monday.

The farmer, 72, said his wife had received a lot of support from the community of northern KwaZulu-Natal.

His wife had called local police for help when she saw an intruder in the backyard after the stranger had left. The incident happened last week.

“They said they would send someone out immediately and about 10 minutes after she made that call he broke a window,” the husband said.

“She was in the kitchen and by the time our little dog barked he was on top of her and that was the beginning of a terrible experience.”

The assailant allegedly dragged the woman into the main bedroom and raped her before demanding money and weapons.

He fled with R130, a cellphone and keys.

The farmer said residents of the nearby informal settlement, where he was well known for helping people, handed the suspect, who was new in the area, to the police the next day.

Mark Pitout, co-ordinator for eBlockwatch Northern KwaZulu-Natal (a community network organisation), said the local police station, which was 5km from the farm, took about 40 minutes to arrive.

“We got there with the K9 (unit) from Ladysmith which is 20km away in 15 to 20 minutes. Something has to be done. We need more police in the area,” Pitout said.

An 18-year-old suspect appeared in the Ladysmith Magistrate’s Court on February 17, on charges of rape and house robbery. He was remanded in custody pending a bail application later this week. Police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, said they had not received any complaints about the reaction time.

“Our manpower is determined by norms and standards set nationally for police stations. Numerous factors are taken into consideration such as the level of crime, the number of residents in the area (and) terrain,” he said.

KZN Agricultural Union chairman, Mike Black, said the union had analysed farm attacks over the past three years and found that police had made arrests in every case.

“It’s no consolation to victims but I believe the police treat farm attacks as priority crimes and get their best detectives on to the cases,” Black said.

“Twenty out of 21 cases led to convictions over the past three years and in the one that didn’t the suspect died in custody,” he said.

Black said the union had not found a trend or patterns in the attacks, which appeared to be “random” and not linked to land ownership or labour issues.

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