NEWS & ANALYSIS

The Lens farm murders: Summarised police report - TAU SA

Couple shot separately execution style on the Elim Farm in the Groenvlei district, on September 3 2014, while completely helpless

APPENDIX D OF THE TAU SA SUBMISSION, BY CHRIS VAN ZYL, TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION: NATIONAL HEARING RELATING TO SAFETY AND SECURITY CHALLENGES IN FARMING COMMUNITIES

GROENVLEI CAS 2/09/2014: SUMMARISED REPORT

2 x murder and robbery

Deceased names: Nicolaas Lens - 520528 5063 086

Martha Mary Magdalena Lens - 530421 0089 083

Stolen: 1 x .38 special Rossi

Farm name:   Elim Farm in the Groenvlei district

On Wednesday, 3rd of September 2014, Mr and Mrs Lens were on their farm, Elim, in the Groenvlei district. At 16:00 hours all the staff employed on the farm ceased working for the day and returned to their homes. Between this time and 17:00 hours, Mr Lens went to repair a leaking pipe at his irrigation system. The area where he went to is approximately 250m away from his house behind the shed. Mr Lens repaired the pipe and on his way back to his homestead, it seems as if he was confronted by a person known to him. This person approached him from the front and it seems that a second person was hiding in a silage pit behind Mr Lens.

Footprints were found leading from the silage pit directly to where Mr Lens' body was found. Mr Lens was shot from behind while he was standing or kneeling. The person who shot him, put the firearm against his head and pulled the trigger (in an execution style). His hat was found next to the body, a roll of binding wire, as well as a 5-litre plastic container containing a pair of fencing pliers and a metal saw. These objects were not thrown to the ground, but placed neatly next to his body. The deceased did not have his firearm on him, as it was found in a cupboard in the kitchen.

It seems as if his wife was busy preparing food in the kitchen, as they were going to have a braai, when the intruders entered the house. She was taken to the bedroom to open the safe. A panic button was found on top of the safe, which she had pressed to alert people that there was a problem. The panic button was pressed just after 17:00 hours. When the panic button is pressed, the radio's microphone turns into a sender and people tuned in on the network can hear what is happening in the immediate vicinity.

A person in the area heard over the radio how a woman was pleading with a person who was shouting at her, then a gunshot was heard. After that the Lens' telephone was heard ringing through the microphone, but nothing else. Farmers in the area responded by racing straight away to the farm. On their arrival, they found Mrs Lens body lying on the floor, with a gunshot through the head. They saw the safe had been opened and the firearms belonging to Mr Lens were lying on the ground.

The first farmer who arrived at the farm bumped the farm gate open with his bakkie, and it seems as if the intruders were still in the house. The only thing found to be missing is a .38 special revolver belonging to Mrs Lens. The scene of crime was cordoned off by the farmers and the Groenvlei police station was contacted. The Police Station is approximately 30 km from the farm and it took the police an hour and a half to get to the farm after being summoned. When the Police arrived at the scene, two young policemen wanted to enter the cordoned-off area and were chased away by the farmers, as they were trampling and disturbing the scene of the crime. Both these policemen had no clue on how to approach a scene of crime.

Mrs Lens was found on the ground with her hands, in a ‘hands up' position. She was shot in an execution style, with the firearm being pressed hard against her head when the trigger was pulled.

Mr Lens was confronted by one of the farm dwellers a couple of months ago. An argument ensued and the person threatened to shoot and kill him. This was reported to the Groenvlei Police station, but nothing was done about it. This double farm murder, in my opinion, was an execution and not just a robbery.

The firearm that was used in both murders was a 9mm Parabellum. Its empty cartridges were found near both bodies. A projectile was also found next to Mrs Lens' head.

Issued by TAU SA, September 16 2014

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter