Another Gweru farmer murdered

cfuThe Gweru farming community is mourning the loss of yet another farmer who was murdered in his home last week. 76-year-old Ray van Rensburg, an abattoir assistant at Fairhill Farm just outside Gweru, died last Wednesday after he was attacked in his home by intruders during the night.

Its understood the intruders broke into the house and repeatedly struck the sleeping van Rensburg on the back of the head. They then fled with the farmers wallet containing just US$25. The attack came less than a week after the funeral of Gweru farmer Bob Vaughan-Evans, who was also murdered in his home earlier this month. Vaughan-Evans and his wife Jean were attacked late at night in their home by an intruder wielding an axe. The attack left Vaughan-Evans dead and his wife unconscious. She is still recovering in hospital. The attack on the elderly couple was the third such incident in the space of the last six months, and the prior attack had already left Jean wheelchair bound.

The murders have shocked the farming community, bringing back painful memories of the brutal murders that marked the start of land reform programme in 2000. The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) has previously denied allegations that the murders are linked to the renewed offensive to remove the remaining commercial farmers from their land. More than 100 farmers are facing prosecution by the courts for being on their own land, while about 80 farms have been forcibly taken over.

But CFU Vice-President Deon Theron on Monday said the possibility that the murders are related to the onslaught against the farmers cannot be entirely ruled out.

Part of this campaign to remove farmers from their land is to demoralise farmers as much as possible, Theron said. And you can imagine that these murders are very demoralising for the community. So a link between the two can never be ruled out.

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