Following a high-level community meeting to ease tensions around farm violence in Newcastle on Saturday, it was announced that a suspect had been arrested and charged with the murders of Glen and Vida Rafferty.
According to KwaZulu-Natal SA Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson, Brigadier Jay Naicker, a 29-year-old man was arrested by detectives from the provincial organised crime unit in Osizweni.
Glen and Vida Rafferty were murdered as they returned to their farm on Saturday, 29 August after an evening out.
Their house was ransacked, cameras were destroyed and the suspects fled the scene with the their vehicle which was later found abandoned in the Elandslaagte area.
According to Naicker, the suspect was “taken to a magistrate where a confession was recorded…
“He was charged for two counts of murder and will appear in the Newcastle Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
“The investigation is on-going and more arrests can be expected,” he said.
Appeal for calm
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala on Sunday appealed for calm and a de-escalation in tensions between different farming communities.
This follows Saturday’s meeting in Newcastle, which was attended by senior government officials, including provincial Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi, farm workers and farmers, as well as farming associations.
The meeting comes after the murders, which has seen tensions rise in the area between different community members.
In a statement, the Premier’s office said the meeting was held “to get to the bottom of their concerns and challenges and to find a way forward on how to resolve their problems”.
Improved policing in the area will be “the number one priority” as “police were accused of taking sides in their investigations of crime within the farming community”.
“We cannot ignore the killing of farmers… We are interested in finding a lasting solution to this issue and to ensure that those who have committed these heinous crimes are arrested and convicted to long sentences,” the Premier said.
Zikalala said farm murders were an indication of unresolved and deep-seated issues around land ownership and land poverty as well as the country’s racist past.
“Either way, farmers, farm workers and farm dwellers are central to finding permanent solutions to every issue.
“Farm murders have become a real issue for our democracy and a concern, not only for the ruling party the ANC, but also an issue in our Legjslatures and Parliament, and among members of society in general, ” Zikalala said.
Cele’s breakthrough promise
Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the area on 2 September following the Rafferty murders, promising a breakthrough in the case.
During the visit, the minister met with organised community policing and farming structures. He told the farming community that resources would be shifted to identified areas to enhance safety in the area.
“We have committed ourselves to engage with this community and map out a broader strategy that talks to the challenges identified here. We must see if the cars and personnel that are servicing this area are enough and what role the community can play in bringing about security, not just for famers but for everyone living here.”
At the time, Cele said police has made “significant progress in bringing those allegedly behind similar attacks” in the area to book as since last year, seven attacks took place and police had made arrests in all these cases.
Additional reporting by News24 Wire.