Durban - Civil rights group AfriForum is seeking a meeting with the Minister of Police Nkosinathi Nhleko after an elderly couple in northern KwaZulu-Natal were murdered on their farm on Wednesday, bringing the national number of farm murders to 20 in four months.
AfriForum has also complained that the police responded to the murder at a “snail’s pace”, only reaching the farm 90 minutes after the alarm was raised.
Police on Thursday took in three people for questioning in connection with the incident.
Horror and grief shook the small town of Paulpietersburg after hearing of the deaths of Nico Lens and his wife Marcia, believed to be in their late 50s.
It’s believed the couple was killed at about 5pm as one of them managed to press a panic alarm to alert security. However, when neighbours arrived, the couple were already dead. Nico’s body was found on the outskirts of his Luneberg, eDumbe farm, while Marcia was found in the bedroom.
Eugene van Aswegen, AfriForum’s spokesman for community safety in KwaZulu-Natal, said it was believed that Nico had gone outside to check on his cattle.
“His farmworkers leave at 4pm. He has a routine and he went to check on his cattle. That is when he was shot.
“We heard the emergency call from the Lens farm on the two-way radio, but when the neighbours got there they were already dead.”
Van Aswegen said he believed that the motive was robbery, although there was no way of knowing what had been stolen.
“We asked if there had been any labour disputes or bad relationships, and there had not been. He apparently had a very good relationship with his workers.
“He was a lovely person.”
The couple have a daughter, Kristien, who also lives in the town, and Van Aswegen – who was asked to be the family spokesman – said she was not taking it well.
Van Aswegen complained about the slow response time of the local police and Newcastle Canine Unit.
The canine unit was a valuable response unit that should have been there quicker, he said.
Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said AfriForum’s allegations that police took an hour and a half to respond would be investigated.
AfriForum has now requested a meeting with minister of police regarding the “wave of farm attacks and the murders” that have hit the country.
Deputy chief executive Ernst Roets said
the organisation had community safety structures throughout the country that performed frequent patrols
“Our frustration is that AfriForum fights the problem on the ground, while the political will to take urgent action on a national level is non-existent,” he said.