The 76-year-old farmer, his 65-year-old wife and their son, who were all killed during a suspected robbery on their farm in Richmond on Sunday, was described by neighbours as great people who were respected by the community.
“I have known them for many years and they were great people. The entire community – farmers and labourers alike – are very traumatised by the attack,” said the neighbour, who did not want his identity revealed.
Evart Schutte, his wife Elizabeth, and son Lutz, were killed by unknown people, believed to be robbers, on Sunday afternoon.
KwaZulu-Natal police said the trio were burnt to death, but the neighbour disputed this.
“No, they were not burnt – they were attacked with bush knifes and other weapons,” he said.
The killers then made a fire next to their bodies: “I think they lit the fire to carry out some kind of rituals – they did not burn them,” he said.
According to the neighbour, it seems the attackers had first killed Evart, whom they found alone at the farm. It is suspected his body was hid behind the workshop.
“When the wife and the son arrived they probably found the doors open and were not aware that there were some people in the house.”
The neighbour said the attackers allegedly tied up Elizabeth before striking her with an object to the head. The son was attacked with a bush knife.
“As a community here, we have never seen anything like this before – we are all scared as we do not know whether the attackers will come back for us,” he said
The Schuttes, who have another son in Pietermaritzburg, were in the wood-cutting business.
AfriForum described the murders as shocking. “We are very shocked to learn of this senseless killing,” Ian Cameron, AfriForum’s head of community safety, said.
“It is a shame that the government has done nothing to protect the lives of farmers,” Cameron said.
KZN police spokesperson, Captain Thulani Zwane, said the house was ransacked, and firearms, household items and an amount of cash was stolen.
The police were investigating three cases of murder. No arrests had been made.