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Farmer killed as thousands march against farm attacks

A smallscale farmer was murdered on Monday as thousands across South Africa marched to raise awareness about the scourge of crime affecting those living and working the country’s farms‚ his neighbour confirmed.

Vegetable farmer‚ Bokkie Potgieter‚ believed to be approximately 70 years old‚ was found hacked to death in his bakkie near his Vryheid farm in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday.

His alleged killer was killed by neighbouring farm workers after he crashed the bakkie into a pole. Potgieter’s body was found inside the vehicle.

Potgieter’s murder — and an attack on a farmer in Klapmuts in the Western Cape — occurred as thousands across the country donned black to raise awareness about crime affecting farmers and their workers. The second farmer was believed to have been injured durng an attack‚ but details are not yet available.

Potgieter’s neighbour‚ Braam van Niekerk‚ said the attack happened early on Monday morning.

“It appears as though Bokkie caught his attacker trying to steal his bakkie. It seems as though there was a struggle and Bokkie was chopped through the face with a panga‚” he said.

Van Niekerk said that the killer then stuffed Potgieter’s body into his bakkie and drove off with his (Potgieter’s) feet sticking out of the window.

“He crashed into a pole near the farm. Workers from neighbouring farms who were walking to work ran to the vehicle to try and help the driver‚ thinking he was injured.

“When they got there‚ they saw Bokkie’s body. The killer tried to run away but the farm workers caught and killed him.”

 He said Potgieter had lived alone on his farm.

Ian Cameron‚ community safety head of the civil rights organisation‚ AfriForum‚ said it was important to realise that farm workers were also affected by attacks on farms.

“It’s clear that what affects farmers also affects their workers. They are just as fed up with crime as farmers.

“Their anger is evident with what happened to Potgieter today (Monday). Everyone has had enough with the attacks on South Africa’s farms.”

Police said they were investigating a case of murder. They did not identify the slain man. They disputed whether the incident was related to farm attacks.

The SAPS statement said a 73-year-old man was building a chicken kraal at about 10am when he was attacked.

 “The suspect believed to be in his thirties attacked him with a bush knife and dragged his body to a Ford Bantam bakkie. The victim’s vehicle crashed to the electricity pole and the community saw the victim’s vehicle and went to investigate. The victim died at the scene and the suspect sustained injuries. The suspect later died at the scene‚” the SAPS said.

- Additional information by staff reporter