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Hartswater attack: AfriForum neighbourhood watches, SAPS and community structures arrest farm murder suspects

The civil rights organisation AfriForum is saddened by the triple farm murder that took place near Hartswater in the Northern Cape. The scene was only discovered yesterday (27 July), but indications are that the attack took place on Sunday, 26 July 2020 and that the three victims were abducted or, as a worst-case scenario, their bodies were removed from the crime scene. At the same time, AfriForum is proud to report that its Hartswater and Vryburg neighbourhood watches successfully assisted local police and other community safety groups during the search for the victims and suspects last night.

AfriForum’s Hartswater neighbourhood watch noticed a suspicious vehicle on the road just before 23:00 last night and reported it to the national control room. After various checks with the help of the SAPS, it was established that the number plates on the vehicle were false and do not exist. Local police were called in to assist, stopping the vehicle and arresting four suspects, who eventually pointed out the location of one of the victims’ bodies. Unfortunately, due to the rugged terrain and darkness, they could not find the location of the other two. The search for the other two bodies continues as this statement is written and released.

“As Hartswater is located on the border between the Northern Cape and North West, the Vryburg neighbourhood watch and its proto team reacted to the call and brought their drone along to help with the search. Effective communication between the drone team with their eye in the sky and other teams on the ground assisted the search tremendously. This is a fantastic, yet tragic, example of how communities can assist each other in times of need and help keep each other safe,” says Joseph Renaud, AfriForum’s Head of Community Safety for the central region.

“Although our neighbourhood watch members were the lucky ones, in a sense, to identify the suspicious vehicle, one should not underestimate the importance of all the other community safety structures and the SAPS. It was teamwork that ensured that answers could be provided to shocked and traumatised family members within 48 hours of the crime being committed,” says Thomas van Dalen, AfriForum’s Acting Head of Community Safety for the southern region.

AfriForum, its employees and volunteers extend their most heartfelt condolences to the grieving family. The organisation’s Trauma Victim Support Unit will be supporting them as necessary and requested. The organisation once again appeals to communities throughout South Africa to organise themselves in neighbourhood watches. Anyone who would like our assistance in doing so is welcome to send an email to veiligheid@afriforum.co.za.

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