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State probing cause of death

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The state is still investigating the cause of death of the three Brand family members from Magogong.

Picture: Supplied

THE STATE is still investigating the cause of death of the three Brand family members from Magogong who were attacked and abducted from their smallholding near Hartswater and brutally murdered earlier this week.

In a massive show of support on Thursday, hundreds of community members and farmers travelled in a motorcade to the Hartswater Magistrate’s Court to stand in solidarity against farm attacks and murders.

Five accused persons appeared in the court on Thursday and will remain in custody until their next appearance on August 13.

Danie Brand, 83, his wife Breggie, 73, and their 50-year-old daughter Elzabie were reported missing from their smallholding on Sunday. A family member from Johannesburg alerted the police when he was unable to contact his parents and sister.

Five suspects were arrested this week during a massive operation which included SAPS crime intelligence, forensic experts, detective services and other supporting units.

The Vaalharts community forum also assisted in searching for the family.

The family’s Nissan Micra was found abandoned in Majaneng village in Taung on Monday, while the occupants travelling in a grey Mazda CX5, which was also stolen from the smallholding, were arrested in the Pudimoe district.

The bodies of the three family members were found on Tuesday in the veld near Takaneng village near Taung.

National Prosecuting Authority provincial spokesperson Mojalefa Senokoatsane said yesterday that the residential addresses of the accused still had to be confirmed.

“The accused were unknown to the deceased. The cause of death is still being investigated,” said Senokoatsane.

The five accused – Donald Seolesang, 20, Tshepo Visagie, 36, Realeboga Manyedi, 19, Kgomotso Mpumlwana, 43, and Tshepaone Melato, 19 – made their first appearance in court yesterday.

Senokoatsane said they would stand trial on three charges of murder and kidnapping and robbery.

He explained that the accused did not apply for bail yesterday as Mpumlwana was still consulting with her lawyer.

“The other four accused applied for legal aid while Mpumlwana indicated that she would appoint private legal representation.

“The State will oppose bail given the seriousness of the charges.”

Senokoatsane said that the case was postponed until August 13.

“The accused may decide to apply for bail at their next court appearance, after consulting with their legal representatives.”

The chairperson of the Vaalharts District Agricultural Union, Stefan Smith, said that a petition, signed by more than 600 people, was handed over to the State prosecutor by the Vaalharts District Agricultural Union, Agri-Noordkaap and the Magogong Agricultural Union, to oppose bail.

The petition called for the accused to be handed the maximum sentence if found guilty and that they should not be considered for early parole.

Smith said that two members of the Brand family and representatives from the agricultural union attended the court proceedings, as the number of people who were permitted to enter the court building was limited due to the Covid-19 regulations.

Smith indicated that more than 200 cars, tractors and bakkies, travelled in convoy to the court yesterday, where all supporters remained in their vehicles to observe the Covid-19 regulations.

“We obtained the necessary permission from local authorities to travel in convoy to the court building and show our support to the bereaved family. The Vaalharts community has been hard hit by this tragedy. We extend our condolences to the Brand family,” said Smith.

“Farm attacks are destabilising the economy, food production and land security.”