Cape Town - Police have launched an investigation into the murder of Ashton resident Duane Fortuin, 29, who died after being in hospital for weeks.
He was allegedly assaulted and left for dead by a farmer.
Fortuin, accused of theft, was discovered severely beaten on the outskirts of Bonnievale, on Stormsvlei Road, on September 16.
His family said he had serious head injuries and both arms had been broken.
He died on October 17. His family and rural community activists are calling for justice.
Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said authorities initially opened a case of assault to do grievous bodily harm, which was then changed to murder. He said no one had yet been arrested.
Fortuin was missing for weeks until his family was informed that he was in Tygerberg Hospital’s intensive care unit.
According to reports, Fortuin was last seen on the back of the bakkie of a local farm owner.
Fortuin’s sister, Saskia, said her brother was with a friend who admitted they were at a farm to steal poles when the farmer found them.
“My brother’s friend told us he saw my brother fall as they tried to escape. Duane didn’t come home.
‘‘The next day we went to the police and they went to the farm, even taking dogs, but Duane wasn’t found.
‘‘About three weeks later we were contacted by Tygerberg Hospital and my mother had to identify him by his tattoos as his head was so swollen after surgery,” she said.
She said that although they did not condone her brother’s actions, the farmer had no right to take the law into his own hands and should be brought to justice.
Rural community activist Billy Claasen called on acting provincial police commissioner Sindile Mfazi for an independent investigation into Fortuin’s death. He said the Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation was monitoring the case.
Anyone with information is asked to call 0236158135 or anonymously call Crime Stop on 0860010111, or SMS Crime Line on 32211.