Man, 20, in court for farm murders

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

A 20-year-old man will appear in the Kokstad magistrates' court in connection with the brutal slaying of an elderly KwaZulu-Natal farming couple.

The man is expected to appear in court today. .

A farmworker discovered the bodies of Ray and Yvonne Fitch on Saturday morning. The Fitchs, aged 78 and 79, were cattle, sheep and maize farmers in the Swartberg district in the southern Drakensberg.

They were both beaten and stabbed to death. Police yesterday cleared a second accused - a 19-year-old man - of charges after taking a statement that allegedly points to the 20-year-old as the kingpin in the murders.

The main suspect lives 60km from the Fitchs Swartburg farm and was arrested within hours of the killing.

He is believed to have burgled the couple's homestead just days before their murder. The provincial task team assigned to the investigation expects to make more arrests.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for agriculture and environmental affairs Mtholephi Mthimkhulu has condemned the attack and called on the security services to spare no effort in their investigations into the killings.

Mthimkhulu said: "This heinous crime deserves to be condemned by peace-loving and law-abiding citizens of KwaZulu-Natal."

The double murder comes two days after another farmer from the neighbouring Cedarville town, David Southey, was attacked at his farm during the week. Southey is recuperating at home.

Mthimkulu said his office had been in constant liaison with the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) and will be working closely with the farmers union on developments in the case.