Police find no link between shot man and farmer he accused

Simon Nare

Simon Nare

Relations soured in recent weeks between a farmworker who allegedly committed suicide and his employer.

Police maintain that Johannes Sebigi, 39, shot himself in the stomach in a Magalasfontein farm's maize field next to his parents' home.

But Sebigi's family are adamant that he was murdered.

The police say that after shooting himself Sebigi buried the gun in a shallow hole and ran to his parents' home, where he collapsed.

His nephew found him bleeding profusely and called Sebigi's parents. Sebigi died as they arrived.

Annie Sebigi, mother of the dead man, yesterday said that her son had come home after opening a case at the police station. He told the police that his employer, Stefan de Villiers, had pointed a firearm at him.

"He came back at about 5pm on Saturday and told me the police had opened a docket and that they had been looking for De Villiers all day but couldn't find him.

"He said the police had advised him to go back to the police station the following morning. I told him to sleep at home, but he said I didn't have to worry because De Villiers wouldn't do anything because he had opened a case against him.

"He insisted on fetching his belongings," she said.

She thought she had persuaded him not to go, but a few minutes later he disappeared and the family thought he had gone to the toilet.

"Much later, I asked my grandson to check on the chickens. He came back screaming," said the distraught mother.

She said her younger son rushed outside and found his brother on the ground. When the youngster turned him over he said: "It's Ige [the farmer's nickname]. Then Johannes died. Those were his last words."

Sebigi said her son told her that his relationship with his employer had broken down after the police came to the farm and asked him about a stolen van belonging to a neighbouring farmer.

She claimed that her son told her several times that De Villiers was stealing cows from the villagers and selling them to other farmers.

"He knew a lot and when he started befriending the cops De Villiers was worried that he was going to spill the beans. That's what happened.

"I am not saying De Villiers shot him, but I believe my son was shot," she said.

But Coligny police commissioner Captain Mtshengu, who refused to give his first name, told Sowetan that preliminary investigations indicated that Sebigi had shot himself.

He said that in the maize field there were no footprints other than Sebigi's.

Mtshengu said the investigations were continuing .

"There is no link between the farmer and the murder. But he remains a suspect," he said.

But ward councillor Stanny Mnakama thinks differently. He said the police had failed Sebigi by not arresting the farmer when Sebigi opened a case against him.

"If they had arrested him, Sebigi wouldn't have died. We urge the police to investigate this matter thoroughly and get to the bottom of it."