Fa­tal hack­ing of a Gluck­stadt white vil­lager trig­gers black Mon­day protests

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS -

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..

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