Dullstroom: Marchlands attack suspects in court

Three men appeared before a packed court room in the Belfast Magistrate Court this morning. Outside, 120 farmers and members of the community stood in silent solidarity, to protest against the horrific attack on Dullstroom pensioners Robert Lynn and Sue Howarth. Sue passed away in hospital two days after the attack.

Read previous story here: The horror of a farm attack – “Don’t be afraid my darling”

Claire Taylor, Ms Howarth’s friend and co-owner of the Marchlands farm, said that Sue’s death has had a massive impact on her. She visited her friend on Sunday 19 February, after she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Life Midmed in Middelburg, and said that she saw some reaction on the machines, indicating that Sue knew they were there.

On the Monday, when www.mobserver.co.za was invited to take a photo of Sue in hospital to show the horrid state she was in, Ms Taylor said that she got no reaction from her friend.

Claire Taylor whispers words of encouragement into Sue Howarth’s ear.

She and Sue’s husband, Robert Lynn, were confronted with the difficult choice of switching off the life support machines that kept Sue alive.

“I went home that Monday and I spoke to Sue and I said ‘Please, please do not let us do this. It will be too much to bare.’ On Tuesday morning I got the call that Sue was gone. It was like she heard me and decided to spare us from making that call.”

Nkosinathi Yika, Lucas Makua and William Yika were charged with robbery with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm as well as murder. According to brig. Leonard Hlathi, provincial police spokesperson, three more charges of attempted murder, kidnapping and the possession of an unlicensed firearm will be added to the charge sheet.

Ms Taylor was overcome with emotion as the accused were led into court. Later on she listened calmly as the charges against the accused were read out.

Claire Taylor listens as the charges against the accused are being read.

All three accused applied for Legal Aid.

The state opposed bail with prosecutor Nelia Jones saying that they have a strong case against the accused, consisting of admissions as well as stolen items recovered during their arrest. Ms Jones also stated that all three suspects are currently out on bail on another matter, one of stock theft, relating to an incident that took place on the Bergendal farm near Dullstroom.

The matter was postponed until 10 March for a formal bail application.

Two of the five suspects who were initially arrested for the matter, were not charged due to a lack of evidence against them.

After the matter was remanded, the suspects were requested to stay behind to appear on the stock theft charge together with two other suspects.

Ms Taylor said that her sister, who lives in the United Kingdom, will be addressing Amnesty International about the plight of farmers in South Africa.

February has been marred with bloodshed, seeing a dramatic increase in attacks on farms with several deaths recorded. Bright white and red signs next to the road at the Belfast court, bore silent witness to the victims of violence in recent times.

Fanie Grobler survived a farm attack.

Several survivors of farm attacks attended the protest. One of them, Fanie Grobler, was attacked and beaten to a pulp on his farm in the Stoffberg district adjacent to Belfast. He held up a placard reading “ANC, you have disarmed us, now protect us!” referring to the government’s tightening of gun-laws resulting in thousands of citizens handing in their guns to be destroyed.

Fanie Grobler (left) with a placard in front of Belfast Court.

Jana Boshoff

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