Farmers arrested for murder of disabled man remanded in custody

Two suspects arrested for the alleged murder of Benedict Swartbooi (28) in the Maltahohe district on Tuesday have been remanded in custody after appearing in the Maltahohe Magistrate’s Court.

Henry Vermeullen (51) and Hein Franco van der Wath (25) allegedly assaulted Swartbooi with a stone on his head.

The suspects appeared before magistrate Evelyn Stephanus on charges of murder, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and crimen injuria.

Public prosecutor Loide Nghixulifwa appeared for the state.

Police chief inspector Elifas Kuwinga said on 14 March, three farm workers were allegedly travelling with a horse-drawn cart from farm Rooi Dam in the

Maltahohe district, to Farm Hoffnung at around 16h00.

The farm workers reportedly wanted to pass through farm Betha but were not granted permission, so they returned to use another route.

Kuwinga said on their way back from Betha to Duwiseb Castle on the D824 gravel road, they reportedly stopped to rest along the road, and removed the horses from the cart.

While they were resting, a vehicle with two men allegedly stopped to find out what they were doing in the camp.

The farm workers reportedly said they were resting.

“The two men disembarked from the vehicle and started assaulting them. The three men started to flee by jumping the fence, but the deceased was disabled and couldn’t flee on time. The two suspects then assaulted him with a stone on his head, and they left him behind,” said Kuwinga.

Kuwinga added that later, when the other two farm workers returned, they found Swartbooi bleeding.

He later lost consciousness and was declared dead by a nurse who visited the scene.

The case was postponed to 17 June.

Swartbooi’s next of kin have been informed.

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