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By Lloyd Phillips

Police have three suspects behind bars only two days after three members of a Richmond, KwaZulu-Natal, farming family were brutally murdered.

According to the KZN SAPS one of the suspects was an employee on the farm. Husband-and-wife, Eckhardt (76) and Elizabeth (65) Schutte, together with their visiting son, Lutz (33), were tortured and stabbed to death on Springfield Farm on Sunday, 2 March.

“There was no forced entry into the premises. The family’s vehicle, firearms and cellphones were taken by the suspects,” said KZN SAPS spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker.

A joint operation by the Richmond SAPS, the Crime Intelligence unit, the K9 unit, the Hawks, and private security company, Magma Security and Investigations, netted the three suspects in the early hours of Tuesday, 4 March. Aged between 19 and 20 years, the suspects were said to have been found in possession of three firearms and cellphones belonging to the murdered Schuttes.

“Although we’re saddened by the brutal attack and unnecessary loss of life, we’re glad that those responsible for this barbaric act of violence are behind bars where they belong,” said KZN SAPS provincial commissioner Lieutenant Colonel Mmamonnye Ngobeni.

Meanwhile, civil rights organisation, AfriForum, laid into government following news of the murders. AfriForum accused government of contributing towards the Schutte murders, and to other farm attacks and farm murders, by “failing to assist the farming community with security”.

Ian Cameron, AfriForum’s head of community safety, said, “We are appalled by the murders. They were inhumanly brutal, and yet government refuses to speak out [against farm attacks and murders]. This means that the government is becoming an indirect accomplice.”

AfriForum said it would soon be sending letters to the ambassadors of various foreign countries in South Africa to request them to warn their countries’ citizens of the violence in SA’s rural areas.