The house was in chaos, there was blood and the Sunday lunch remained untouched on the table.
The elderly couple Danie (83) and Breggie (73) Brand and their daughter Elzabie Brand (54), who came to visit them from Johannesburg, were in the house on the smallholding outside Hartswater on the Northern Cape / North West border on Sunday afternoon and they were attacked before they could sit down for lunch.
“They did not even have a chance to eat their lunch,” says their son-in-law Wikus Taljaard, who lives in Brackenfell in Cape Town.
He and his wife, Heidie, the Brand couple’s youngest daughter, became worried when they called Hartswater again on Monday and received no answer.
Family friends of Taljaard and Heidie went to investigate on the smallholding at their request. A large-scale search was launched in the afternoon when the friends came across the abandoned house with the contents overturned and bloodied.
Elzabie’s body was found on Tuesday morning in a wooded field in a settlement near Taung in the North West. Her parents are still wanted.
Taljaard says he and Heidie spoke to her parents and sister on the phone on Sunday afternoon, presumably moments before the attack.
“Everything was okay, they laughed, talked and made jokes. It was just after 12:00. The attack could have happened just after that because they did not eat the Sunday lunch, ”he says.
“My wife talks to her parents every day and when we did not get them on Monday at all, we suspected trouble.”
Heidie’s school friends who live close to the Brands went to investigate. According to Taljaard, it was not difficult for them to gain access to the house. The house is not in a remote location and there are other houses in the vicinity.
“There was quite a bit of chaos in the house,” says Taljaard.
The house was terribly cluttered and there was blood. The family’s cars were also gone.
“The school friends called us and said, there has been trouble.”
The Brands were not in the house and the family (the Taljaards and the couple’s other daughter, Trudie de Beer) notified the police and the local neighborhood watch. Then the giant search was launched.
Brand’s car was found in a neighborhood near Taung shortly after the search began.
Elzabie’s car, a gray Mazda CX-5, was stopped on the N18 road just past Pudimoe, which is located between Hartswater and Vryburg, at about 23:00 on Monday. Police arrested the 42-year-old woman who was driving the car and the two men, aged 18 and 19, who were with her.
A fourth suspect, a 20-year-old man, was arrested Tuesday morning.
In a statement issued by the National Police Headquarters in Pretoria on behalf of the National Commissioner of Police, Genl. Khehla Sitole, says police think they are at this stage of the investigation that the motive for the attack was robbery.
The three suspects apparently pointed out to the police where Elzabie’s body could be found against Ghaap’s Berg. They also allegedly indicated that Brand and Breggie’s bodies were buried further in the same area behind a forest with branches. They had not been located by Tuesday morning.
Taljaard says they suspect his parents-in-law’s puppy, a miniature pinscher, who died a week before the attack, was poisoned.
“My father-in-law thought a snake had bitten him, but maybe it was a way to get rid of the element that makes noise and warns.”
It is suspected that the attackers lured Brand outside, overpowered him and gained access to the house in this way.
“My wife is having a hard time. Her whole life changed completely in a matter of a few seconds. She called them every day, heard if things were okay. It is going to be a difficult time. ”
Taljaard says they were making arrangements to have his parents-in-law move to Cape Town.
Taljaard’s daughter, Hybre, is a model and actress in the Cape. She also desperately asked on Facebook on Monday for people to help locate her grandmother, grandfather and aunt.
“If anyone sees this car in the photo, please contact me or my parents,” she begged.