Murder of WC farmer highlights rural safety issues, agriculture authorities say

Hendrik Pistorius Photo: Facebook

Hendrik Pistorius Photo: Facebook

  • A Piketberg farmer, found murdered on his farm, has been described as soft and caring.
  • Hendrik Pistorius, 53, was well known for growing protea flowers.
  • The attack highlights the safety challenges faced by rural communities.

“He was known all over the world for his flowers. Everyone asked for Hendrik’s blushing bride proteas.”

This is just part of the legacy left behind by murdered Piketberg flower farmer Hendrik Pistorius, 53, said his brother, Louis Pistorius.

Hendrik’s body was found at his Piket Bo-Berg farm on Wednesday morning. According to the family, he had been hit on the head and his body was found partially covered by a crate.

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Police believe the murder occurred during a robbery at the farm, and an undisclosed amount of cash was taken from his desk, News24 previously reported.

It’s been a devastating loss for his family, who described the farmer as soft and caring.

Louis said: 

He would have helped anyone who asked him. He was very hard working and successful; a one-man show. I can’t believe all the things he managed to do on his own.

“Our father bought a farm years ago and had a manager running it. It didn’t go well and when my brother finished his army service, he decided to farm. He started from scratch. He knew nothing about farming, but he taught himself and eventually bought the farm. Hendrik started with just fruit trees – apples, pears and peaches – and then started growing Buchu, before moving on to flowers.”

“He grew proteas and was known all over the world for his flowers,” said Louis.

Hendrik specialised in blushing bride proteas (Serruria florida), a species endemic to South Africa, and had build up an international name for himself as a supplier.

Louis described Hendrik as adventurous, saying he had a passion for flying his helicopter and microlights.

He said: 

Hendrik loved flying. He was living life as best as he could.

The family has been grappling to understand what led to the murder. 

“You don’t know why something like this would happen. You hear so much about farm murders and crime in general. It’s frustrating. What can you do? We just hope the police can catch the guilty guy,” said Louis, who seen the blood stains where his brother had been hit on the head when he arrived on the farm.

Agri Western Cape CEO Jannie Strydom said that the agriculture sector remained vulnerable to crime, especially in rural communities.

“The important thing is not the number of farm attacks or the frequency of them. One is too many. It’s totally unacceptable that an industry that ensures food security for our country must operate under these circumstances,” he said.

Strydom said that a commercial farming venture required significant amounts of capital, experience and knowledge to successfully operate. Targeting individuals with the experience to run these ventures could have far-reaching consequences, he warned.

“Once there is a murder and that person is removed, with no immediate replacement, the business is likely to stop functioning, and it’s not easily restarted. This creates uncertainty for farm workers in terms of job security and can impact production, creating a food security risk for the province and the rest of the country,” Strydom said.

He said farmers in the province are more likely to feel concerned about their safety after the murder, especially because they are working outdoors in “exposed, rural areas”.

“Farmers are concerned about their safety and are forced to spend thousands of rands on security, which comes out of their bottom line,” said Strydom.

Strydom called on the government to fast track the national rural safety strategy to help prevent future farm attacks.

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“It’s a good strategy but the implementation is just not taking place. We would like to see that happening on ground level. We need more police in rural areas as well as reservists that will assist exposed rural communities,” he added.

Western Cape Minister of Agriculture Ivan Meyer called the murder a “tragic incident” and said he was concerned about crime in rural communities.

He said the provincial government would “do everything possible to see justice in this particular case”.

“An attack on a farmer or an agri worker is an attack on the human dignity of the people living in rural communities and an attack on the economy of the Western Cape,” he said.

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