KImberley - A 32-year-old farm worker is facing a charge of murder and attempted murder after allegedly shooting and killing a 35-year-old emerging farmer and shooting another man in the testicles.
The farmer, Willem van der Westhuizen, died after his was shot in the head on his farm Bonte Heuwel in Griquatown last Tuesday afternoon.
Dion Barends, who survived the incident, was shot in the testicles. Speaking from his hospital bed last week, Barends said that he would have to live with a bullet in his bladder for the rest of his life.
Barends, who was at his home in Rainbow Valley when he was shot, was admitted to the Kimberley Hospital Complex on Tuesday night.
“I was at home with my family when the suspect came to my house. He first shouted from the front of the house and my cousin told him that I was at the back. He drove along the side of the fence and stood at the fence, where he shot at me from the bakkie,” Barends said.
According to Barends, he did not realise initially that he had been shot.
“It felt like something had hit me on my genitals. I went into my bedroom and lay down on the bed. I was in incredible pain and was rolling on the bed. I told my family to call an ambulance. After I put my hand inside my pants, I saw blood on my hand. I then took off my pants and saw the hole in my scrotum,” he said.
Barends said that he was later rushed to the Kimberley Hospital.
“I was transferred to Kimberley as the doctor said I might have to undergo surgery. I was taken to theatre on Tuesday night but the surgeon did not operate. The medical staff informed me that the bullet was stuck in my bladder. They said they could not take it out as it might cause complications. I am hoping that it will not bother me in future.
“I am also concerned as I saw that one of the X-rays showed that one of my testicles was completely destroyed. Hopefully I will not have any problems with my reproductive system in future.”
Barends said that he heard later that Van der Westhuizen had died.
“My cousin rushed me to the hospital in Griquatown. I heard that the suspect had shot ‘Dik Willem’ before he came to my house. I also heard that the suspect was later caught by the police after he rolled the bakkie.”
Barends said that he did not know what caused the incident.
“The suspect and I had an argument about four months ago. Back then I allowed the police to handle the matter, but we later settled it. I knew the suspect, but we were not close. There was no bad blood between us following that argument, which is why I am puzzled about the motive for the shooting,” Barends said.
According to reports, Van der Westhuizen was also shot following an argument with the suspect.
Barends said that it is suspected that the shooting might be linked to the disappearance of another farm worker.
“There is a young farm worker who went missing. According to some of the workers who were present during Willem’s shooting, the latter told the suspect that he was going to look for the missing man. The suspect then apparently shot Willem in the head.”
Barends said that he was lucky that none of his family members were injured during the incident.
“My three-year-old daughter was standing next to me when the suspect shot me. My girlfriend and my cousin were also present when the incident occurred. That man could have hit any one of them, especially my daughter as she was closest to me,”
He said that he would let the authorities handle the matter. “I was angry but decided that I would not take revenge on the suspect. He must face the law and be punished for what he did.”
He added that he still could not believe that Van der Westhuizen had been killed.
“Dik Willem was a very nice person. He was very kind. We used to hunt on his land and he never had a problem with anyone. Everyone knew and loved him. I do not know of any instance where he was rude to anyone. It is very sad that he is no more,” Barends said.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Mohale Ramatseba confirmed that the alleged shooting rampage followed an argument between the deceased and the suspect.
“The two men apparently had a heated argument ... at about 3pm which led to the fatal shooting of the farm owner. The victim was shot in the chest with a .22 rifle. After the shooting, the suspect sped off in the victim’s Ford Ranger bakkie.
“The suspect allegedly shot a 26-year-old man in his lower body and the victim has been admitted to hospital.
“The police were notified about the incident and gave chase.”
According to Ramatseba, the suspect overturned the bakkie and tried to escape on foot.
“The police managed to arrest him and confiscated the rifle. The rifle’s serial number was filed off. The suspect is expected to appear in the local magistrate’s court soon and will face charges of murder and attempted murder,” said Ramatseba.
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