Four brutal attacks in two years
ON THE night of January 5, 2015, an intruder broke into Susan Kotze's home and strangled the 75-year-old to death with a wire coat hanger.
Mrs Kotze lived alone on the family farm, just outside the coal mining town of Lephalale, about three-and-a-half hours north of Johannesburg. Her killer, 22-year-old Phillip Kgoantha, worked for the grandmother but had been let go.
That day, he begged to be taken back. "My grandmother allowed her murderer to work for her and gave him food and accommodation for the night," Sonealda Kotze told news.com.au.
"After 7pm that evening when the safety group called her on the radio and she responded that everything was OK, he gained access to her home, assaulted her, strangled her with a coat hanger and murdered her. He then took all her money and cellular phones and fled the scene with her Ford Bantam."
Kgoantha was later caught and sentenced to 25 years in prison. But for Ms Kotze, her grandmother's senseless killing was just the start.
The 27-year-old has personally felt the effects of four brutal farm attacks in her small corner of the northernmost Limpopo province, which borders Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The following year, Ms Kotze's elderly neighbours, 89-year-old JJ "Poem" Lamprecht and his wife, 76-year-old Kotie Lamprecht, were attacked on the evening of October 29 by three men, who knocked on the door just after 9.30pm.
They forced their way in and demanded money, tying Mr Lamprecht's hands, assaulting him with a steel object - thought to be a pipe - and kicking him repeatedly. Mrs Lamprecht was tied to the burglar bars in front of one of the windows and also assaulted.
According to their granddaughter Madeleine Human, after the attackers fled with cash and a firearm, Mr Lamprecht managed to cut himself loose with a knife and crawl over to his wife, but was unable to free her. He died at her feet.
Mrs Lamprecht spent the night tied to the bars with her dead husband. They were found by their daughter at 11am the next morning. "For grandpa Poem, there was never anywhere he wanted to be other than the farm," Ms Human told local media.
"If he had to go away for two days to visit the doctor, he became grumpy and just wanted to go back. We buried him on the dam next to the farm, so he could rest in the place where he was happy."
A few months later, the Kotze family farm was hit again. On February 6, 2017, 57-year-old Pieter Hendrik Pieterse, who was renting a home and some grazing land for his sheep, was brutally murdered.
"Five men gained access through the kitchen window and tortured him and cut his ear off, before they killed and robbed him," Ms Kotze said. "They took his firearm, safe and vehicle and fled the scene."
Then on September 20, 2017, 55-year-old Dr Werner Emslie and his Dr Mariette Emslie, also 55, were sitting outside their house on their farm, close to Ms Kotze's property, when four men attacked with pistols and machetes.
They shot and killed Dr Emslie and shot his wife, leaving her critically injured. They also assaulted and seriously wounded the couple's 19-year-old daughter Barbara.
"Four men fled the scene with Dr Mariette's vehicle and firearms," Ms Kotze said. "The vehicle was later found, about 2km away from the farm abandoned, on the side of the road."
One of the suspects, Petrus Moyo, was arrested in November but managed to escape custody after cutting his way out of the police cells. He was recaptured two days later. The other suspects remain at large.
For Ms Kotze, the pain from repeated tragedy in the tight-knit farming community - and fear of what's to come - are unbearable. "I cannot tell you the pain I have in my heart, the tears over my face every day," she said. "I am heartbroken."
This week, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton's offered to fast-track humanitarian visas for the country's persecuted white farmers, who have been subjected to an escalating campaign of attacks characterised by extreme brutality, rape and torture.
Ms Kotze said she would consider the offer, if it was to eventuate, but the South African government reacted with fury.
Eighty-two people were killed in a record 423 incidents last year. Mr Dutton said white farmers faced "horrific circumstances" and needed protection from a "civilised country".
"The South African government is offended by the statements which have been attributed to the Australian Home Affairs Minister and a full retraction is expected," South Africa's foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
"That threat does not exist. There is no reason for any government in the world to suspect that a section of South Africans is under danger from their own democratically elected government."
On Friday, Australian Australian Prime Minister Malcolm insisted Australia had a non-discriminatory humanitarian program. "We have migrants to Australia from every part of the world ... and we have a refugee program that is non-discriminatory," he said.
"We have a very large South African community of Australians of South African ancestry, from every background, and they make a phenomenal contribution to our very successful multicultural society."
Meanwhile, civil rights group Afriforum, which represents the Afrikaner minority, expressed gratitude to Mr Dutton but said most South Africans would prefer to stay.
"We would like to solve the problem in South Africa," Afriforum deputy chief executive Ernst Roets told the ABC. "So we don't necessarily think the solution is for everyone to leave the country."
An estimated 500,000 white South Africans have left the country over the past three decades, with around 200,000 settling in Australia.