Well-known Stellenbosch wine farmer Stefan Smit killed in farm attack following land grabs dispute

South Africans were shocked this morning over the atrocious murder of Stefan Smit, a well known wine  farmer of Louisenhof at Stellenbosch last night by three masked men.

Farmer murder in   South Africa is still causing insecurity to both citizens and investors alike.

In the latest attack of Stefan Smit, the owner of Louisenhof Wine Estates in Stellenbosch.

Smit’s farm was in the news last year after hundreds of nearby residents built informal shacks on the property. Smit received a number of threats and was forced to beef up security measures on the property after he vehemently resisted the illegal land occupation.

Smit had gained something of a national profile after he was interviewed by the New York Times in March, speaking to the publication about the threat of land grabs on his property. The wine merchant had previously complained about how citizens from a nearby township had begun erecting shacks at the back of his form.

The farmer was forced to get a court interdict against the squatters. Sadly, the letter of the law couldn’t prevent Smit from meeting a brutal fate. Police have confirmed that four armed men gained access to the wine estate via an unlocked door, before opening fire on the 62-year-old. His wife and a family friend survived the attack.

The Stellenbosch vineyard backs on to the township of Kayamandi. Over the course of a few months, a settlement bordering the farm was established. Although he had it dismantled by the Red Ants, the squatters were undeterred and rebuilt shacks on the fields. You can learn more about this from one of our previous articles on the matter.

When Smit spoke to the NYT, he gave a chilling prophecy on what he thought would happen if the dispute carried on. Within a few months of giving this interview, his worst fears have been realised.

“I, personally, can’t breathe here. They are bringing people down here like fodder. I have never spoken to the people myself, not directly. You don’t do that. It’s not un-dangerous. It’s not advisable. I have received threats before, where they said they would burn me alive.”

Smit was a member of Vinpro, the company who regulate the production of wine in the Western Cape. The Stellenbosch-based group Tweeted their condolences on Monday, while condemning “the senseless murders happening to SA’s farming community”. The victim’s nephew also posted a hard-hitting message online:

It is further reported that, according to chairperson of the Stellenbosch agriculture union Piet Carinus, Smit was in the process of negotiating to sell some land to the Stellenbosch municipality at market-related prices. This as land grabbers continue to erect shacks on the Louisenhof property.

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