Free State police launch manhunt after brutal murder of farm foreman

02 October 2020 - 17:21
By mpumzi zuzile AND Mpumzi Zuzile
Farm manager Brendin Horner's body was found tied to a farm gate after he was killed by unknown attackers.
Image: Facebook Farm manager Brendin Horner's body was found tied to a farm gate after he was killed by unknown attackers.

Police in the Free State have launched a manhunt for the suspect/s who attacked and killed a manager at De Rots Farm in Paul Roux, west of Bethlehem.

Free State police spokesperson Brig Motantsi Makhele said the body of Brendin Horner, 21, was found by police tied to a pole in an open space at the farm at about 6am on Friday.

Makhele said police had received a call from neighbouring farmers about an attack at De Rots Farm.

“On arrival, police found Horner, who was declared dead on the scene with injuries on his head and face and tied with a rope around his neck to a pole. A knife was seized at the scene,” Makhele said.

“His Toyota Hilux vehicle with blood stains was later found abandoned near Duikfontein Farm in Paul Roux.”

He said Horner was attacked and brutally murdered by an unknown number of attackers after leaving his father's farm to head home at 7pm on Thursday. At 10pm the family went looking for him because he had not arrived home. They did not find him and could not reach him on his phone.

The motive for the killing is unknown. A murder case has been registered with Paul Roux police.

Horner and his father Robbie worked for Gilly Scheepers on Bloukruin farm, close to Paul Roux.

Scheepers said: “Horner worked for me for a year before he was brutally murdered. This is a sensitive matter and we do not want to comment any further.”

Scheepers told TimesLIVE Horner’s father had requested privacy.

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'A clear message to all farmers'

Agricultural strategist Dr Jaco De Villiers has described the latest murder as part of  a “war against food production” in the country.

De Villiers said Horner’s murder was slaughter.

“How do you murder someone and hang him on a pole for everyone to see? This was a clear message to all farmers,” an angry De Villiers said.

He warned that if farm killings do not stop, farmers might start retaliating and this could lead to more bloodshed.

Dr Jane Buys, safety and risk analyst of Free State Agriculture, said they strongly condemn the farm murders.

“The senseless killings cannot be allowed with the brutality in which they are executed,” she said.

“It is not clear what the motive for this murder is. There cannot be any justification for killing a person who provides food security.”

Koos Odendaal, who oversees safety in farming communities in the Free State and the Eastern Cape,

warned: “Farmers survived several wars and attacks. We will survive this wave. Farmers are at the point of looking after and extensively protecting themselves.”

Economists, food security experts and rural community researchers last week warned that SA faced a dire job and food supply security risk because of the criminal onslaught against the country’s 300,000 emerging farmers and 40,000 established commercial farmers.

Research by Agri SA showed that, on average, a farm will be abandoned for up to five years by a farmer who is violently attacked, with dozens of workers and their dependents losing their livelihoods.

Dr Vuyo Mahlati, president of the African Farms’ Association, said farm workers bore the brunt as they had no safety net if farmers left their land.

Makhele called on anyone with information about Horner's murder to contact Det-Sgt Britz on 082 466 7648 or station commander Capt Moloi on 082 419 6715.