“I am and continue to be a farmer and despite the bad experience I am there to provide food.”
So says Sandra van Zyl, 57, a farm attack victim who is now opening her heart to help alleviate the food crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic by donating food to those in need.
Van Zyl, who was attacked on her chicken farm outside Ventersdorp in the North West Province at the end of November, donated 150 dozen eggs to needy people in response to a request from AfriForum last week. A coordinator of Solidarity Helping Hand, with the necessary permit, went to collect the eggs from Van Zyl so that it could be distributed to the needy along with other food.
Due to the effect of the total seclusion on the economy, many people lost their income and fell into poverty.
Van Zyl and AfriForum’s paths crossed when AfriForum’s trauma support unit approached her out of the blue one day after her attack and provided the necessary support.
Van Zyl was about to close her office door on her chicken farm on November 28 at about 23:15 to drive home, when six armed men attacked her. She lives about 2 km from the farm.
“I usually worked late at night. I would always pull my bakkie at the office door so I could just lock in, jump in the bakkie and drive home, ”says Van Zyl. At that point, she was building a garage at the office so she didn’t have to leave the office at all when she had to walk to her bakkie late in the evening. The garage was almost finished.
The men’s faces were covered and they immediately grabbed her firearm hidden in her pants pocket. “They repeatedly hit me over the head with my firearm and cursed. They demanded money from me, ”says Van Zyl.
Van Zyl led the men to the safes in the office. They robbed the office and took the thousands of cash from the safe.
“I decided to stay calm and work together, otherwise I would lose my life.”
They left Van Zyl on the ground and poured boiling water into her ears, after which they closed her in one of the walk-in safes. It was a very dense safe and she couldn’t breathe.
They loaded all the stolen goods into the bakkie and after a while took Van Zyl out of the safe and forced them into the bakkie with them. “They realized they weren’t going to get the farm gates open and they needed me.” Van Zyl says they have terrorized and threatened her all the way.
A little way from the farm, on a dirt road next to a train track, the bakkie came to a stop. The attackers began handing the goods over to another person. “That’s when one of them said to me, ‘Get in your bakkie and drive. Don’t look around. ‘ I jumped in my bakkie and just drove. I didn’t know where to go. ”