Seven suspects have been arrested in connection with the kidnapping and murder of a farmer from Sterkfontein near Harrismith in the Free State.
Mike Pattinson’s (67) brother, Philip Pattinson, reported him missing to the town police on Monday after he did not show up for work that morning.
Mike was the chief financial officer at Harriston Private School in Harrismith. He lived alone on the farm Summerslie.
According to Sgt. Mmako Mophiring, police spokesperson, saw the farm workers and a domestic worker Mike for the last time on Saturday around 17:00. One of the workers saw that the farmhouse’s kitchen door had been broken open and he informed Philip.
The police went to investigate the farm.
“It was clear that there were people in the house. Laptops and a Toyota Urban Cruiser were missing,” says Mophiring.
“Netstar Tracker Company tracked the Toyota. It was parked at a house, near a tavern, in the Tseseng settlement in Qwaqwa.”
Several police units were mobilized and seven people, including two women, fled the scene.
“The police chased the suspects and shots were fired. All seven were arrested. One of the suspects was in possession of a toy firearm.
“Two of the suspects were injured and are currently under police guard in the hospital.”
The police searched the house where the car was parked and Pattinson’s body was found. He had several open wounds on his head and neck.
“The farmer was pronounced dead at the scene. Two laptops and a camera, which presumably belonged to the deceased, were recovered.”
A case of house robbery, murder and possession of suspected stolen property has been filed.
The seven suspects will appear in the Tseseng and Harrismith Magistrate’s Court soon.
According to a recent analysis carried out by Free State Agriculture (FSA) over the past eight financial years of farm attacks and murders in the province, serious violent crime tends to increase in the winter months, as well as in the months leading up to Christmas.
Dr. Jane Buys, security risk analyst at VL, mentions that there was a farm attack in the Twins area last week. Three attackers assaulted a worker, after which the farmer with the help of other residents apprehended the suspects.
“VL deplores the attacks on farms that are aimed at anyone on farms, whether a producer, a worker or a farm resident. Farmers and their workers who help to arrest offenders also put their own lives at risk in order to ensure their own safety,” says Buys.
According to Jakkals le Roux, chairman of VL’s rural security committee, farming communities must report any information regarding suspicious movement on their farms to the rural security coordinator of the police and the security representative of the farmers’ association concerned.
“They must also not allow strange people or visitors on their farms without the necessary permission and completion of a visitor register,” says Le Roux. “Farming communities are also requested to update the security and/or contingency plan in their area and make sure that they participate in exercises within the rural security strategy (LSS) with the police.”
VL strongly condemns the murder of Pattinson and expressed condolences to his family. The organization also praised the police for their swift action in following up on information that led to the arrest of the seven suspects.