My parents were pensioners residing in Villiers, a small town in the Free State Province of South Africa. My dad, Jannie, was 76 years old and my mother, Mollie, was 72 years old.
On the 25th of January 2001 at 5 in the afternoon my phone rang, it was my brother in law from Springs, in Gauteng, South Africa, saying that he had bad news to tell us. My parents were attacked in their house and my dad was unconscious. We hurriedly packed and left for Villiers. On our way we were told that a doctor had checked and confirmed that my dad passed away.
At 8 that night, as we arrived at my parents’ house, the sight of it being barricaded by the police was very upsetting. I wanted to enter the house to get to my mother but was told she was taken away to make a statement. I still wanted to go in but was told that it was a secured crime scene and that they were waiting for the K9 unit as well as for the forensic teams to arrive to check for fingerprints. They did however allow me in to remove my parents’ dog from the kitchen. I have to commend the detectives who dealt with the case, for the excellent job they did.
By 11 that night the perpetrators were identified by their fingerprints, by midnight their location was known and by 1 in the morning the four presumed perpetrators were in custody.
My mother was severely attacked, spent a lot of time in hospitals recovering from her multiple injuries as well as the trauma of the event. It felt as if she never got to mourn the death of her husband and she later stated that nothing was ever again enjoyable or beautiful, since that night.
My niece and I went back to pack up my parents’ house. In the top of my father’s cupboard we found a brand new panga, sickle and axe. As the thieves went through his things that night they somehow missed all of these dangerous weapons which they probably would have used against my parents. Once they got the keys to the safe from my mother and took the weapons, ammunition and my mother’s diamond rings from the safe she thought they will shoot her but they did not.
The Court Case
The murder case was heard in Heibron (a small nearby town) High Court and my mother was summoned as the only living witness. At the time she was in ICU and therefore not available to appear. The case started on 10 December 2001. My husband and I presented a letter from the specialist to explain her absence and the attorney requested that I may testify on her behalf. I have never before seen the inside of a court building and here I volunteered to testify in a High Court case!
Because of bad weather and a storm one of the opposing council was held up, which allowed me two hours to walk around in the court building, praying al the time. At the same time my sister in Springs got a prayer chain going to intercede on my behalf.
I was the first witness called and had to endure two and a half hours of cross examination by 3 attorneys and the judge.
Praise God… not once did my emotions get the better of me, I never felt nervous or angry and I was able to give sensible answers to all the questions. By the time the case started in court only two of the original four men arrested were still alive. After only three days in court they were found guilty of the murder of my father, assault with the intention of serious bodily harm of my mother, the illegal possession of fire arms and ammunition and break in and theft of household goods from my parents’ house.
Each were sentenced to effectively 26 year’s imprisonment, without the option of bail or appeal.
I knew my mother would not last much longer as one night during the court case I had a dream of my father clothed in white standing by a river, reassuring me that if I had to deal with this he will be there to take my hand.
My mother waited for the sentencing to be completed and passed away on 18 December 2001.
In the Free State Province, at NAMPO (an Agricultural Fairground) in Bothaville, a wall of remembrance was erected to commemorate the victims of farm murders in the province. My father’s name appears on this wall. Every province in the country has a similar place of remembrance.
It took a few years before I had the nerve to go and have a look at the plaque. I felt the same emotions as when this horrible tragedy happened in our lives.
I thank God that He enabled my sister Ettie, and myself to forgive the guilty parties, to enable us to carry on with our lives without carrying that burden of what happened to our parents with us for the rest of our lives.
It breaks my heart to know that we are not the only family that had to go through this kind of ordeal and that several farming communities in South Africa suffer similar fates… unnecessarily!
Mom & Dad
You were the best parents and grandparents that we could ask for.
Always in our hearts, no one can take that away from us.
“ Luv U lots 4 eva”