Below is an excerpt from one of my chapters of my ‘soon to be’ published, new book, ‘Reloaded – Shooting Back Again’.
Farm murders are a tragic crime in South Africa, as are all other murders. The main challenge with farm murders is the severity of the torture that accompanies many of the attacks.
Attackers have been known to burn their victims with blow torches and clothing irons, pour boiling water onto their bodies, slit their throats, drill a hole through their skulls and rape men’s wives while husbands are forced to watch.
Many books have been written on this terrible scourge on our society, but there are also “good guys with a gun”, and, in this case, a “good gal with a gun” who are making a difference.
Silke Kaiser, in her book GOTCHA: A polygraphist lifts the lid on crime in South Africa tells an interesting story.
She was called out to a farm where an attack had failed in the most spectacular fashion. The farm was located close to the Lesotho border.
When Kaiser arrived, she was greeted by the farmer, Jan, who picked up her laptop bag and showed her into the farmhouse kitchen, where they were joined by Jan’s wife, Elize.
Sitting at a large wooden kitchen table, Kaiser learnt of the events that led to a botched attack at this homestead, just three days prior to her arrival. She listened intently, as husband and wife took turns to recount their story.
Every morning, Jan would rise at 3am to tend to the chickens, along with two of his staff members. He never took his gun with him, because he believed if someone wanted to steal the chickens, they were most welcome.
On this morning, Jan and his accompanying employees were accosted by four gunmen. The attackers addressed their three victims in English and ordered them to lie down. Of course, they complied.
The two farm workers were then tied up. Kaiser was surprised to hear this; her professional experience showed that most often, staff members were not targeted in the attacks on farmers. She continued to listen quietly, surmising that the syndicate would probably have been informed that the farmer did not carry a gun at that time of the morning.
Two of the attackers remained with the restrained victims in the chicken enclosure, while the other two escorted Jan to the farmhouse. They stopped in the kitchen, where they instructed Jan to call his wife.
Jan and Elize are Afrikaans speaking, but he called out to her in English, using a term of endearment; “lovie”. She was still asleep at the time.
The two thugs stepped into the passage, forcing Jan to go with them. They waited for Elize to appear behind the locked security gate that led to the bedrooms — many in South Africa, for safety sake, split their homes internally by closing off their bedrooms from the rest of the home, by installing what we call a “rape gate”.
The attackers had no way of knowing that “lovie” was a pre agreed-upon password, which would immediately alert the spouse that a farm attack was underway.
The bad guys also did not know that Elize was an expert shot. She had grown up with guns and had been trained to shoot by her father. If they had cared to do some reconnaissance, they might have learnt that Elize had worked for a shooting range for 15 years, and that many had learnt how to shoot under her instruction. They were also not aware that Elize would emerge from her bedroom carrying a loaded gun.
If they had had any idea of the above, the two perpetrators might not have stood so confidently on either side of Jan. They appeared to be convinced that once Elize saw that her husband was “under arrest”, she would immediately open the gate. Their guns were not being aimed at anything, as they assumed that a woman, at the mere sight of a gun, would lose all semblance of control and would immediately become intimidated and passive.
Maybe their prior history taught them that all victims act this way. If they had an inkling as to the caliber of woman they were about to meet, they might not have exposed their chests so carelessly.
When Elize emerged from her bedroom, she shot the first perpetrator twice in the chest, both bullets narrowly missed his heart. She then moved the gun slightly to the right, and shot the second thug in the head, killing him instantly.
The man who had been shot in the chest ran through the puddle of blood left by his accomplice, and out the door. He was gasping from the damage the two bullets caused to his lungs. Into the fields he went and hid under a thorn bush, where his corpse was later found.
It was further established that this man had committed two other farm attacks. He had not yet murdered anyone; but torture was his specialty.
The other two accomplices, in cowardly fashion, fled the scene.
To cut a long story short, as is the case in most home attacks in South Africa, one of the employees had been the informer to the attackers.
Kaiser asked Elize how she felt when she shot the intruders. She said that her brain had gone into “automatic mode”, from years of training. She had fired her first shot at the tender age of five, and handling guns was second nature to her.
When she saw the guns in the hands of the criminals, she knew she would shoot them well before they realized what was happening and could aim their guns back at her. All three around the table agreed it was because of the sheer surprise factor of her actions, that she had been so successful in neutralizing the threat.
“… and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.”