Jana van der Merwe and MJ Lourens, Volksblad (Bloemfontein, South Africa), December 3, 2010
A chilling message written in Sotho on a piece of cardboard saying “We have killed them. We are coming back”, was found on the gate of the farm where three people were brutally killed on Thursday.
The victims of the murders were Attie Potgieter, 40, his wife Wilna, 36, and their 3-year-old daughter Willemien. It was suspected that little Willemien was shot so that she wouldn’t be able to identify her parents’ killers.
Three farm workers were arrested on Thursday. Later, in townships in the area, three more suspects were arrested. According to early information, one of them is only 17 years old.
The Potgieters were murdered on their 11th wedding anniversary.
Arno Potgieter from the neighbouring farm, Van Tondersrust, spoke about the murders of his brother, sister-in-law and Willemien: “It is still half unreal. It was a terrible, terribly big shock.”
After her mother was killed, little Willemien was presumably taken to an outside room and shot in the back of the head.
The body of Willemientjie, as she was called, was then apparently carried to her mother’s body in the main bedroom. Her mother had also been shot in the back of the head.
Willemien’s body was found with a little pink ribbon still tied in her hair.
In the house, a plate of food was still in the microwave.
Potgieter’s body was found outside the house, next to a fence at the back door.
He was presumably surprised and hit on the back of the head with a sharp object, possibly a panga.
He was also stabbed with a garden fork.
When reporters arrived on the scene on Thursday, his body was covered by a pink blanket, on the spot where he had died.
Salary money withdrawn
Potgieter was believed to have withdrawn R7 000 from the bank on Wednesday afternoon to pay salaries.
According to information, the suspects arrested in the townships had paid the farm workers R500 each for information about the family’s movements.
Wilna, who had worked at OVK’s Arlington branch for many years, was assistant branch manager at the time of her death.
Her husband was a manager on the farm Tweefontein for Alex Macaskill, who lives in Marquard. He also ran cattle on a nearby farm, where his brother Arno lives.
Christiaan van Tonder, son of their neighbour, Colyn van Tonder, met three workers coming from Arlington on Thursday who told him that their employer was lying dead outside the house.
The suspects were arrested after swift action by police members of several Free State units.
Credit cards covered in blood as well as a 9mm firearm, which was also covered in blood, were found in a shack near Lindley. Another firearm was found on the scene.