Stefan Smit. Louiesenhof farms.
An Inter-ministerial committee has been established to look into the safety of the province’s rural areas.

Following the murder of prominent wine estate owner Stefan Smit, 62, officials on Monday agreed on the establishment of a provincial watching brief for rural farm incidents to be introduced.

This was in addition to the petrol-bombing of a parked truck on the N1 near Touws River, which sent 50-year-old Bernard Groenewald to hospital.

Police spokesperson André Traut said they were investigating the incidents. 

Louiesenhof wines 

“Four armed suspects entered the victim’s house through an unlocked door and shot and killed him. His wife and a family friend who was present at the time of the incident both survived. The suspects fled with personal belongings and are yet to be arrested,” Traut said of Smit’s murder.

Smit’s estate, Louiesenhof, had made the news following an alleged illegal occupation of a portion renamed Azania by current occupants.

Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer yesterday met with Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz, Stellenbosch mayor Gesie van Deventer and other role-players, including Agri Western, Cape to discuss a plan to end violence in the rural areas.

A meeting was also expected with advocate Rodney de Kock, the provincial head of the National Prosecuting Authority.

“An attack on a farmer or an agri worker is an attack on our rural economy and we must put a stop to this. We must defend our rural economy against crime and lawlessness,” Meyer said.

Fritz said: “I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the families on their loss. We cannot tolerate attacks on our farmers, agri workers and communities. Our farms are the breadbaskets and provide livelihood to the many surrounding them.

“I will be arranging a conference with various municipalities to establish a network of safety for our rural communities.”

Wine industry representative body VinPro’s chairperson, Anton Smuts, said farm attacks were on the rise. “We call on President Ramaphosa to take a strong stance against this countrywide attack on the agricultural sector and take action to improve safety in rural areas. We call on wine farming communities to be vigilant with regard to their own security and work together by become involved in policing or safety initiatives.”

CAPE TIMES