Farm attackers want to chop off woman’s hand to get ring

Farm attackers wanted to chop off a woman’s hand to get her ring during a farm attack in Broederstroom in Hartbeespoort on Wednesday night.

Bernice Snyman (19), Sonja van der Merwe (36), and the three small boys, John Pierre (5) Mason (10) and Samuel (6).

Sonja van der Merwe (36), her daughter Bernice Snyman (19) and three small sons, Mason (10), Samuel (6) and John Pierre (5) were attacked by a gang of robbers armed with pangas on their farm shortly before 18:00 on Wednesday.

“I was helping the children with homework and Bernice was cooking supper when the men stormed into the house,” a traumatised Sonja told Kormorant on Thursday morning. “When we saw the pangas, we knew we were in grave danger. I tried to shield the children and one of the robbers hit me. We don’t know how many there were, four were with us in the bedroom and more were in the kitchen. They forced us all into the bedroom and ordered us to sit on the bed. One picked me up and tried to tie me up with my computer’s mouse cable but it did not work. He threw me back onto the bed and tied Bernice and I with our masks’ strings,” Sonja said. “He then lifted the panga and aimed at me. I thought he was going to kill me, but he dropped it again. The children were not tied up and ordered to sit quietly on the bed. Luckily they sat still, but they were all crying. They kept on telling us to shut up, over and over.”

The attackers asked for guns, the car keys and money. When they saw Sonja’s ring, one grabbed her hand and said he was going to chop it off. “I begged him not to do it, I could remove it. When I got the ring off and handed it to him, he wanted my earrings as well. I repeatedly asked them to take everything they wanted and not to hurt us.”

The robbers took R100 cash Sonja had in her handbag and ransacked the house. They took the family’s cellphones, a computer, speakers and other belongings and fled in Sonja’s Kia Sportage. However, at the gate of the property the robbers lost control of the car and crashed into a rock garden. They then fled on foot.

“When we heard them drive away, we broke the elastic we were tied up with and Mason ran to neighbours for help,” Sonja said. Members of the community and Hartbeespoort police were on the scene soon after.

“I thought it was over, we were going to be killed. I thank God that we were not injured or killed.”

This is the fourth farm attack in the Broederstroom and adjacent Skeerpoort area in two days. On Tuesday night a gang of seven, armed with pangas, attacked a family home on a farm in Broederstroom, breaking the windows with rocks and trying to break down doors. The owners managed to alert rural safety groups before the gang could invade the house and the attackers fled when help arrived.

About an hour later, presumably the same seven panga-wielding men attacked farm workers on two different farms in the area. In both cases, the doors to the victims’ houses were broken down, the workers assaulted and robbed of their valuables. The Hartbeespoort police are investigating the attacks. Anyone with information is requested to contact the police on  012 253 7000.