The voice of agriculture . Die stem van landbou . Izwe lezokulima

Farm Murder Rocks Midlands

Pregnant mom killed in Weenen knife attack

The Witness

6 Jul 2020

NOKUTHULA NTULI • nokuthula.ntuli@witness.co.za

THE farming community in Weenen is reeling after attackers slit the throat of three-months pregnant Zakiyya Ahmedjan Ismail (26) at the family’s cattle farm on Saturday evening.

A family spokesperson, who wished not to be named, yesterday confirmed to The Witness that masked attackers made their way into the farm house through the kitchen. When Ismail’s husband, Ayoob (31), heard the noise he went to check and they pounced on him and demanded cash at knifepoint.

He tried to fight them off but they overpowered him. The attackers kicked the children, who are three and nine years old, and put them in one of the bedrooms.

“They dragged her [Ismail] into the bathroom and slit her throat. My brother is not badly injured but he’s obviously very shaken by the whole thing,” he said.

Ismail was buried yesterday morning.

KZN provincial police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said the Weenen SAPS were investigating a case of murder. “Nothing was taken from the house,” she said.

Chairperson of the Weenen Farmers’ Association Shane Reynolds said the area had not had any farm violence for more than a year but they had been observing similar attacks around the province and the country.

“This incident really hit home. The whole community is very shaken up by it, especially the brutality of it. You see these incidents happening elsewhere and it’s always concerning but this brings it right to our doorstep. We are all grieving with the family. They’ve been part of this community for a long time,” said Reynolds.

Sandy la Marque, the chief executive of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu), also extended her condolences to the Ismail family.

She said there were two other farm attacks reported in province over the weekend but fortunately there were no fatalities. The incidents were in Bishopstowe and KwaDukuza.

“The spike in these criminal incidents negatively impacts on food security and investment in rural areas and obviously we’re very concerned about the increase.

“Kwanalu works very closely with the police structures to find workable solutions. I must be honest that in many of farm attacks that happened over the past four weeks the police have been very good in their response.”

She said Kwanalu would like to see law enforcement structures and government scaling up their operations in the rural areas such as Weenen, because such criminal incidents devastate not just the affected families but also communities as they affect agricultural production and deter investors.

DA spokesperson on agriculture and rural development in KZN, Chris Pappas, said the DA was shocked and appalled by Ismail’s brutal murder, especially because of the tragic loss of an unborn child.

“The brutality of farm attacks as well as the vulnerability of farming and rural citizens should be a top priority for this government. However, in true form they deny, ignore and do not care about the tragedies unfolding in our farming and rural communities.”

He said the DA has launched a national work-stream on farm and rural safety that has seen more attention drawn to the scourge happening across South Africa and KZN.

He added that it was time that President Cyril Ramaphosa took charge and acted on the matter.

“There are two fundamental issues that South Africans must contend with. Firstly, why does the president of the country remain silent and continue to deny that farm murders are happening? And secondly, why have these attacks/murders not been classified as hate crimes?”

This incident really hit home. The whole community is very shaken up by it, especially the brutality of it.