Fatal hacking of a Gluckstadt white villager triggers black Monday protests
HE WAS determined to build a mud hut for his unemployed son and two grandchildren, but Bokkie Potgieter never got to complete that project.
Instead, he was brutally hacked to death by a panga-wielding robber, who had attempted to steal his bakkie, while he worked on the hut on Monday. Initially, it was believed that the 73-year-old Potgieter of the KwaDikadika rural village in Gluckstadt near Vryheid, northern Zululand, became another victim of attacks on farmers.
On the same day, thousands of people gathered countrywide, under the banner #BlackMonday, to speak out against farm murders. While Potgieter had hopes of farming commercially, when he relocated to the area 10 years ago, his efforts didn’t amount to more than than the brood of chickens he had at the time of his death.
He relied largely on his state pension to care for himself and his son Frans’ family. The 30-year-old Frans said his father had lived harmoniously with the Zulu speaking locals and also spoke the language fluently. His fluency in Zulu also enabled him to interact freely with the community and he often participated in traditional rituals of the village people.
“In spite of him being a white person, he was grounded in Zulu culture,” said Frans.
Potgieter was nicknamed “Mphephethi wenduku” which is the name usually given to people skilled in stickfighting.
“My father (Mkhulu) attended traditional weddings, drank trad- itional brew ( umqombothi) and danced with the locals
“He did not discriminate against other cultures. He spoke Zulu very well just like I do. The village people adored him, especially for his kindness. He would ferry sick people in his bakkie to the nearest clinic and hospital without reservation.
“When my father was sick our neighbours would check on him,” said Frans as he wiped the tears that streamed down his face.
Potgieter grew up on a farm near Nongoma where he met his Jabu who bore Frans, their only child. She died five-years later.
Later, Potgieter relocated to Gluckstadt hoping for a fresh start to life, especially in farming, and he rented an old house.
The mud hut he was building was going to be their new family home.
But since Potgieter’s death, his grandson Bongani, 5, and granddaughter Loveness, 3, eagerly await his return.
Potgieter was engrossed in construction work when his attacker caught him by surprise. An Eskom official alerted the community that Potgieter might be in trouble when he noticed the elderly man’s vehicle had crashed into a street pole, at high speed.
Frans rushed to the scene and was startled when he came face to face with the man who allegedly killed his father, a stranger in the area.
“He was busy trying to restart the car’s stalled engine after the crash. I asked him what he was doing with my father’s van, but before he could answer, I was shocked to see a Hessian cloth bag, drenched in blood on the front seat.
“That is when I realised he had harmed my father. He was still alive in the bag. I said, ‘Father, I am here for you.’ I begged him to hold on until I could get an ambulance,” he said.
Frans realised the man he had been conversing with had lied to him.
“I could not look him in the eye, he said he saved my father from men who had attacked him with a panga.
“My father could not respond as he struggled to breath through a deep hole on his face. His eyes, nose and mouth had been hacked off. “It was a very disturbing sight. “He could have pushed the old man aside and taken the bakkie, if that was his intention, but not to kill him,” Frans reasoned.
Frans, who did odd jobs as a handyman, said that his father’s death had been a severe blow to his family and his children were also deeply affected because they were close to their grandfather.
“He fed and clothed us with his pension money during times when I could find no work,” Frans said..