Members of Kranskop's farming community felt their blood run cold as a child's voice sounded over the farm radio network: "Hulle het my ma geskiet. Kom help." (They've shot my mom. Come help.)
It was the voice of a six-year-old girl who found her mother, Nadine van Rooyen, 41, lying critically injured in a pool of blood outside the farmhouse on Wednesday night.
Her five-year-old brother apparently slept through the attack.
Van Rooyen was shot in the head with a shotgun and died a short while later in hospital, police said. Farm workers ran for help, but the little girl put out an alert on the radio, a farmer said.
The president of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union, Fred Visser, issued a "challenge" on Thursday to provincial Safety and Security Minister Nyanga Ngubane and accused him of not having "the guts" to face farmers to discuss the crime issue.
The motive is unknown since the attackers - thought to be two men - apparently did not steal anything.
Van Rooyen's husband, Kobus, was still away on a fishing expedition in Namibia on Thursday oblivious to the plight of his family.
Kranskop farmer Edsel Hohls, head of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union's safety and security committee, said family members managed to make contact with "a member of Van Rooyen's fishing party" on Thursday and hoped that word would reach him before he read about the incident or heard it on the radio.
Hohls said he had complained to police about releasing the identity of the victim without first ensuring her husband was notified.
He said farmers were up in arms over the latest in a series of attacks and murders in the district and its surrounds since December.
"One's completely lost for words over this whole issue. It's the brutality of it that's so hard to come to terms with. It makes one angry," he said.
Farmers joined members of the SAPS in the hunt for the killers and continued to question members of the community on Thursday. "There is so little evidence to go on. We can only appeal to the community to help us find the killers."
Hohls said feelings were tense in the area.
The head of Greytown's murder and robbery unit, Captain Errol van Rijn, said the motive for the murder remained a mystery.
"At this stage, we don't know under what circumstances the shooting took place," he said.
Agriulture union president Visser said the minister had been "ducking and diving" and had postponed scheduled meetings for the past six months. "We were due to meet him next week. I've been told that the meeting has been rescheduled for February 28."
He said the message being sent to farmers by the minister was that he did not regard them as a priority.
"I challenge him to meet us and just listen to us ... I will chair the meeting and I promise I don't want to insult him or attack him. I won't tolerate that ... I want to do it in a good and respectful spirit.
"At the end of the day if he doesn't have the guts to face us, we will have to go to Mr Steve Tshwete (national safety and security minister) and SAPS commissioner Jackie Selebi. We can't continue with this type of negotiation."