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Hartswater farmer Gerrit Fourie, 68, was shot dead on his farm during an attempted robbery.
He died in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor of his farmhouse at around 1am on Thursday morning.
Fourie’s wife, Annetjie, 65, said that she, together with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, grandchild and a friend, had been asleep in the house, when the friend, Maranda van Zyl, came into the main bedroom to wake her and her husband up.
“Maranda came into the room, saying that she had heard voices outside and suspected that two burglars were busy cutting the burglar bars in an attempt to get into the house.
“Gerrit then took his rifle and went outside, while I stayed in the room. I heard three shots and then another four (shots). When it was quiet, I walked to the back door and found my husband on the kitchen floor. He was trying to stop the blood from a bullet wound to his inner thigh, but he was losing a lot of blood, very quickly.
“His breathing was heavy and he struggled to speak, but he told us that it was the ‘skelms’ (crooks) who had shot him. The last thing he said was that he was thirsty and then he died,” Annetjie said.
Van Zyl, who had also come to his assistance, added that although everything happened very fast, she could see that Fourie was dying by the “change in the colour of his skin and the broken appearance of his eyes” while she was checking for a pulse.
Fourie’s daughter, Christene Murdoch, said that she told her father to lie down but that he was in too much pain to do so and added that because he was covered in blood, it was hard to see if there were any other bullet wounds.
Doctors and paramedics arrived on the scene shortly after Fourie was found and tried to revive him by administering oxygen and performing CPR, but their efforts were in vain.
He was declared dead on the scene.
A blood trail indicated that he was shot at a small gate leading to the farm’s pecan-nut orchard.
The gate’s lock had been cut and it is suspected that the attackers climbed over the wall surrounding the property before cutting the lock to get out again.
The family had no further information regarding the attackers, adding that the police’s K9 Unit had found four sets of footprints leading to the nearby informal settlement of Bonita Park.
Nothing was stolen.
Although Fourie’s wife appeared calm while speaking to reporters on Thursday, she said that the reality of losing her husband had not yet “sunk in”.
“It feels completely unreal, like it did not really happen. I think the reality of what actually happened will only hit home later, but for now it feels like I am dreaming. I can’t yet comprehend that he is gone. To think that only hours before his death, we were still sitting in the garden not knowing what was about to follow,” she said.
The family added that Fourie was well-known, much-loved and respected in the Hartswater and Hoopstad farming communities.
“As an expert nut farmer, many appraoched him for business advice and ideas. He was the owner of SA Ground Nut Marketing in Hoopstad and was working on making the business the biggest peanut production factory in South Africa.
“It is just so sad to see him taken away so brutally at a time when his dreams were about to come true. There was just no other like him. Not only was he extremely passionate about farming and business, but also about life. He will be sorely missed,” the family said.
Fourie is survived by his wife, three children and eight grandchildren.
On Thursday police spokeswoman Andrea Cloete confirmed that the Hartswater police were investigating a case of murder at Plot 215 at around 1am on Thursday morning.
Cloete said that an unknown suspect fired a shot that hit Fourie. She confirmed that he was declared dead on the scene by paramedics.
“The suspects were not inside the house and nothing was stolen from the premises. No-one has been arrested in connection with the incident and the police are working around the clock to track down the attackers.
“The police are urging members of the community to come forward with information because these suspects are armed and dangerous. Anyone with information can contact the Hartswater Police Station on 053 474 2155,” Cloete added.
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