Police seek farmer after corpse located still tied with rope to tree

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

The body of a Limpopo man who was allegedly kidnapped while poaching on a farm near Gravelotte three weeks ago, was found at the weekend.

Limpopo police spokesman Senior Superintendent Motlafela Mojapelo identified the body as that of Ntsako Richard Mkhari, 40, of Priesca village near Eiland, who went missing three weeks ago.

Mojapelo told Sowetan the body was in an advanced state of decomposition.

"His body was still tied up with thick ropes to a tree and dressed in tattered clothes when it was discovered," he said.

Mojapelo said the body had been taken for forensic tests.

Mkhari, an unemployed father of eight, went missing on July 15 while hunting with his six dogs on Vygeboom farm near Eiland outside Phalaborwa. Four of the dogs were found dead on the farm by the police after the other two returned home the day Mkhari disappeared.

His family reported him missing and police launched a massive manhunt.

During the investigations, Johan Andrien van Niekerk, 69, owner of the farm, was arrested and charged with kidnapping. He was released on R10000 bail when he appeared in the Phalaborwa magistrates' court on a charge of kidnapping a fortnight ago.

The following day, Van Niekerk was rearrested and charged with murder.

This was after bloodstains were found near the scene. During his first appearance, Van Niekerk's lawyer, Johan Steyn told the court that Mkhari was a Mozambican who might have fled to that country to hide.

He later told the media outside court that on that fateful day, Mkhari was arrested by Van Niekerk when he was caught poaching on the farm.

Steyn said Mkhari had been arrested and tied up with ropes behind the bakkie, but had fled while the farmer was taking him to Gravelotte police station to lay a charge.

Yesterday, after the discovery of the body, police had gone to Van Niekerk's house, but he was not there.

Mojapelo said police were already looking for him.

But by noon yesterday, Van Niekerk was still missing. He is due to appear again in the Gravelotte circuit court on Wednesday.