The family of murdered farmer Dan Shadew Singh, who was found stabbed and strangled to death on his kitchen floor, said they believed the attacks were fuelled by land invasion.
Durban – Dan Shadew was never far from his shotgun.
He lived in Holmbosch, Nonoti, a rural area outside KwaDukuza. Far from help, he knew his shotgun was his only hope if he was attacked.
Years ago, Shadew’s parents farmed the property, growing vegetables. Over time, he sold the farming land but chose to remain on the piece of land where the family house was built. He lived alone and ran a tuckshop from his home.
Last Friday night, the vigil Shadew kept on the family property ended when he was stabbed twice in the chest and strangled to death.
His attackers fled in his car, an Opel Corsa, taking his most prized possession, his shotgun.
Tashveer Singh, his grandson, said Shadew was speaking to his son Vikesh on the phone last Friday at around 6.30 when there was a knock on the door. He ended the call to see who it was.
The next morning, a group of children who went to the tuckshop saw blood on the ground outside the front door. They called for Shadew, and when he did not reply, they went to a nearby farm for help.
A local farmer subsequently found Shadew dead on the kitchen floor with stab wounds to his chest.
After being alerted, Singh went to the home with Nikesh Hooblall, the owner of Taurus Security.
“On our way to the house, we found my grandfather’s vehicle abandoned on the side of the road about four kilometres from his home. When we got to the house, we saw a trail of blood from outside leading into the kitchen. You could see that his body was dragged.
“He had two stab wounds to the chest, and there were red marks around his neck. You could see from his injuries that my grandfather had put up a fight.?”
Other than the shotgun, nothing else appears to have been taken.
“We searched the house, and everything seemed to be in its place. The only thing missing was the shotgun,” said Singh.
“We told my grandfather many times to stay with family or on his own, but he refused. He always said if someone wanted to take him out, they should kill him in his own home. He kept his shotgun close to him and used it to protect himself.”
Singh described his grandfather as kind-hearted.
“He was resilient and a pillar of strength to the family, especially when his wife Dropathy and children Shanu and Nilesh passed on.”
Singh said he believed the attacks were fuelled by land invasion.”I believe these criminals are trying to push people out of their homes so they can take over the area.”
In October last year, Shadew’s neighbour, Ashnee Ramasir, was hit in the face with a hammer and stabbed in the stomach and leg during a robbery.
Ramasir, 54, dragged herself to the verandah of her home where Shadew found her more than 12 hours after she was attacked. He contacted her family and the ambulance services.
At the time, Shadew told the POST that the attack had angered him and that he would not go down without a fight.
“I have a shotgun that I keep at my bedside to protect myself. I will use it if I am attacked. I cannot wait for the police or a security company because they will never be able to help me on time. My house is situated in a rural area with gravel roads. We are more than half an hour away from the KwaDukuza CBD.
“Although we are not farming anymore, I live here to keep our family’s legacy alive. People living on farms are seen as easy targets. Farmers are being attacked, and nothing is being done about it,” he had said.
Ramasir survived the attack, but has not returned home.
Hooblall said after Ramasir’s incident, her home was ransacked.
“Criminals seem to target the elderly, especially those who live alone. They are taking advantage of families because they are aware that it takes security companies and the police a long time to respond to incidents in rural areas.”
Madhun Singh, a relative and the councillor in the area, said Shadew was a humble soul.
“After Ashnee’s attack, I told him a number of times to move out of the area, but he was adamant that he wanted to stay. He kept that shotgun at his bedside. He was fearless. As a family and a community, we are saddened by his death. We need law enforcement to prioritise the investigations into farm attacks.
Madhun said criminals were aware that families lived in isolation as neighbouring farms were often a distance away.
“They are also aware that the families are, in most cases, elderly people and because they are fragile, they are easy to overpower.”
Thoko Didiza, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, recently condemned farm attacks saying an attack on a farmer is an attack on the country’s food security.
She said the role of farmers was important in ensuring a sustainable food production for the nation and the continent at large. Didiza called on the law enforcement agencies to do whatever it took to apprehend these criminals so that the law could take its course.
Captain Nqobile Gwala, a provincial police spokesperson, said a case of murder was being investigated. No arrests have been made.