State condemns brutal murder of elderly farm couple

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Two youths have been arrested in connection with the brutal slaying of an elderly farming couple.

Ray and Yvonne Fitch, aged 78 and 79, of the Swartberg district in southern Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal, were beaten and stabbed to death. Their bodies were discovered by a farmworker on Saturday morning.

The suspects, who live 60km from the Fitches cattle, sheep and maize farm, were arrested hours later. They are expected to appear in court tomorrow.

One of the suspects allegedly burgled the Fitch's homestead just days before their murder.

A task team assigned to investigate the murders expects to make more arrests.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for agriculture and environmental affairs Mtholephi Mthimkhulu said: "The heinous crime perpetrated on the elderly couple deserves to be condemned by peace-loving and law-abiding citizens."

"It is with sadness that we have received the news of the brutal slaying of the Fitches, hardly two days after farmer David Southey from the neighbouring Cedarville town was attacked at his farm.

"We call on our police to leave no stone unturned so that the perpetrators of this dastardly deed can be brought to book.

"On behalf of the KwaZulu-Natal government, and the department of agriculture and environmental affairs in particular, we would like to express our deepest condolences to the bereaved Fitch family and the entire farming fraternity.

"We would like to reassure them that we will work tirelessly to strengthen our farm protection and security initiatives to ensure that such a heinous crime does not recur," Mthimkhulu said.

He said his office has been in constant liaison with the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union.

Police detective Ian Rennie described the attack as "senseless".

"The incident happened in a small farming community and farmers are understandably upset. We have appealed to locals not to take the law into their own hands but to work with the police."

He said stolen items belonging to the Fitches, including two safes and a firearm, were found in the possession of the suspects.

Southey has been discharged from hospital and is recuperating at home.