Walkerville, Vereeniging. The supermarket chain who buys the dairy-products from 26-year-old dairy foreman Eon Viljoen has much to answer for. Their failure to pay the farm for its products has caused a chain of horrific events in which two former farm workers – angered because they did not get their Christmas bonuses in time – beat farm-owner Marie Weilbach, 79 into a braindead-coma with a steel-pipe. The two workers then were killed in turn when they waited for her grandson Villjoen in ambush and tried to kill him with a shotgun and a steelpipe. Two dairy-farm workers – Mkhlushwa Khoza and Mbongiseni Hornsby – beat 79-year-old farm-owner Mrs Marie Weilbach into a braindead coma while the retired Boer dairy-farmer was watching a religious TV-programme. Both her hands were crushed from trying to ward off the blows. She’s on life-support in a Gauteng hospital – declared braindead.
Earlier this year the young Mr Viljoen had taken over management of the family-farm from his frail grandmother – its ownership dates from 1903 (from the era when the British colonial military forces attacked the independent Boer Republics). Viljoen said that from the outset as its foreman, the farm had struggled to get paid for their dairy-products from their buyers. Eon Viljoen worried about the Christmas bonuses, so two weeks ago their six workers were called together and told by Viljoen that that he would not be able to pay their annual Christmas bonuses before Christmas – but also promised that they would still get the bonuses immediately after the farm got paid by the buyers in the city. They had always received their wages on time; the problem was with the bonuses. “One of the workers at the meeting then reacted very angrily, demanding his money immediately, said Viljoen. “He told me ‘you are not wearing a bullet-proof vest, and I am going to shoot you’.”
Viljoen said he then hurriedly borrowed money from a friend, called the workers together again and paid them their bonuses. However – he also fired the worker who had threatened to kill them and told the assembled workers that if this man had carried out his threat and Viljoen ‘ was no longer there to run the farm, they would all have been out of a job’. He said a second worker then decided to quit his job as well. Then these two disgruntled workers started a campaign of terror against the remaining four farm workers and their families which got so bad that the four workers fled from their cottages to the township – one even left with his wife without getting paid. Another fleeing worker stole R800 – his last remaining cash – from Viljoen’s wallet before disappearing, he said.
His grandmother – in whose name the family farm is registered – took these threats and all these incidents very seriously and warned him to protect himself – giving him her legally-registered 9mm pistol on Tuesday-nigh (December 21, 2010), he said. “I phoned the two workers Khoza and Hornsby on Wednesday, asking them to come to the farm so that we could find a solution to the problem,’ he said. “They both showed up but then demanded more cash payments of R6,000 and R3,000 respectively as ‘entrenchment packages’. I told them that I didn’t have that kind of money and that they would have to contact their trade union to take the matter up with them to deal with it legally.” Khoza and Hornsby then left the homestead and shortly thereafter, Viljoen also went outside to drive his usual rounds before stopping by a hiding-place in the stable to fetch his grandmother’s pistol at around 18:20. He immediately wanted to give it back to her for her self-protection.
When he returned to the homestead the back door stood open, he told Beeld. “At that time of the evening my grandmother always feeds her dogs so I did not suspect anything amiss until I walked into the kitchen. The two workers, Khoza and Hornsby were waiting for me – one immediately fired a shot from a shotgun without saying a word, and I fired back at once. Both shots missed. The worker then fired again with the shotgun. Vijoen said he then shot the man with one shot to the head and as the other worker stormed towards him with a steelpipe Viljoen also shot him dead as well. The grandson then rushed inside to find his grandmother –“she is a very religious person and always sat and watched the church-channel on TV all day…’ — and found her on her chair, her head caved-in and bloodied; critically injured. He immediately phoned the SAPS and medics from Netcare 911. Mrs Weilbach was rushed to Sebokeng hospital where she was put on a life-support machine. She has been declared braindead, he said. “Why didn’t they just wait for me somewhere on the farm ? Why didn’t they leave my grandmother alone ?” he said. SAPS constable Makgauta Serathi said they are ‘investigating two murder-cases.