Four more arrested in connection with Newcastle farm murders

SABC NEWS BHEKI CELE NONKULULEKO HLOPHE - Four more arrested in connection with Newcastle farm murders

Police are still investigating the troubled Normandien police station outside Newcastle in northern KwaZulu-Natal, after a local farming couple Glen and Vida Rafferty were killed in August this year.

Police Minister Bheki Cele says four people have already been arrested in connection with the killing of the Raffertys.

“In Normandien you know that more people have been arrested now. When we went there, there was one person, now four more have been arrested,” says Cele.

Cele visited the area and held a meeting with both the farming community and farm dwellers in September after concerns were raised about the police station’s alleged shoddy service.

He says, “The Commissioner has sent a team that we are talking about to go and investigate what was the problem, those results are still on the way to make sure… we are pulling together the resources of the police and the resources of the farming community there. They did say they have cameras, we will be working on that. But I think it is much better and the fact that more people have been arrested has made the community relax a little bit.”

Emotions run high at crime imbizo

Farm dwellers raise their concerns

A heated meeting between farm owners, dwellers, and Cele unveiled tensions within the farming community in this area. Some farm dwellers raised concerns about how they say farmers treat them.

They also accused the local police of not adequately dealing with matters reported by farm dwellers.

An emotional pensioner, Dumazile Lukhele, shared her struggles and asked Cele to intervene. “The white farmers in our area are terrorising us, all the time. There was a time when I was in a process of building my house the farmer destroyed it. In another incident, I wanted to bury my child, the farmer came with dogs and attacked us, he prevented us from burying.”

Normandien farming community left in shock following couple’s murder:

Law enforcement response

Chairperson of the Amajuba Landless People Movement, Somandi Hadebe, questioned what he referred to as a quick response by law enforcement authorities, following the Rafferty’s murders.

He says tensions in the area have been around for many years. “A number of black farm dwellers have died at the hands of the white farmers in this area but nothing has been done, not a single official attended to our cries, but when a white farmer is killed we are now suddenly seeing government officials coming to our area. I have asked the Minister why are they are here to form structures knowing very well those structures will not survive.”

Cele assured farm dwellers that pending cases would be re-investigated.

In particular, he responded to a comment from a local farmer, Roland Collyer, who reportedly down-played a shooting that is said to have taken place some years ago, where a farmer allegedly shot and killed a farmworker and claimed to have been shooting a dog.

“It can’t be an old case that somebody died because you thought you were shooting a donkey or shooting a dog, a baboon it can’t be. Next time Mr. just show some respect for some of us. This thing of yours of putting me on the spot wanting me to answer you, it is arrogance, you have no respect. You put me here; you even say I must use my head to nod that is arrogance.”

Meanwhile, Collyer presented his version of the alleged incident, calling it is an old case that is long gone.

“It is a point that keeps coming up in these meetings. If I can rectify it Mr. Geldenhys had dogs in his property, he shot the dog and the owner was lying behind it. That is an old case so we would like to see that this gets seen as an old case that has passed.”

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