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SHAUN SMILLIE AND NORTHERN NEWS
A BURGLARY and a suspect found wearing shoes that matched tracks at a crime scene.
This could be the key to solving the murder of a farmer and the attempted murder of his wife, who is in a coma in hospital.
Last night, police were searching for four men who were seen climbing out of the window of the house moments after they had gunned down Johan van Rensburg, 77, and wounded his wife Gloudien, 65, on their farm near Baltimore in Limpopo.
The couple were shot as they lay in bed at about 4am yesterday, according to police.
Others at the scene said there had been a struggle.
The couple were discovered by a professional hunter who lived in a flat adjacent to the main house, who entered the house after hearing gunshots.
American hunters who were staying in a lodge on the farm also heard the shots and went over to the house to investigate.
“While they were approaching the house, they saw four men jumping out the bathroom window,” said police spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Ronel Otto.
Johan died at the scene, while Gloudien was airlifted by helicopter to Polokwane’s Limpopo Mediclinic.
A witness said one of the American guests with medical experience had rushed to Gloudien’s aid, while others called for help.
According to Louis Fouché, of the Tolwe Farmers Union, the guest accompanied her in the ambulance and in the helicopter to Polokwane.
The American hunters were supposedly guests of the Van Rensburgs’ son Hanno, a well-known outfitter in the area.
Nico Solomon, of the Lephalale District Agricultural Union, who was at the murder scene, said police officers and other farmers were at the farm within 15 minutes.
Trackers and members of the SAPS K-9 unit began tracking four sets of footprints.
“They tracked them to the N11 tarred road. We suspect they were picked up by someone,” said Otto.
A police helicopter and private choppers assisted in the search.
During the search, a man wearing shoes that matched those that were being tracked was arrested in the Gilead area. He reportedly fled when a police vehicle approached him.
Last night, police could not confirm whether he was linked to the crime.
The Van Rensburgs’ house was broken into recently and, according to Solomon, there was reason to believe the same robbers were involved.
The police were also investigating the possibility that firearms had been stolen from the house, as the Van Rensburgs’ handguns could not be found.
Late yesterday, police officers and members of the farming community had found fresh spoor leading from the murder scene and were following them up.
Police believe the men gained entry to the house by cutting their way through the burglar proofing in the bathroom. They then broke down the door to the couple’s bedroom.
Police and residents said the area had been relatively crime-free in recent times.
“There has been nothing this serious in the area for several years now,” said Otto.
Johan was well known in the area and was head of the local farmers’ union.
“Everyone knew him in the district. He was a good man who didn’t deserve this,” said Solomon.