Daughter asks for help solving murder of Estina dairy critic Philemon Ngwenya

She said she received a call while attending school in Standerton in Mpumalanga. “I had to rush home and we were all shocked to find his body in that bed. It was painful‚ a painful experience.”

Free State police spokesperson Brigadier Sam Makhele said the murder was being treated as any other murder case and they would not speculate on a possible motive until their investigations were done.

“This is a murder case that is being investigated by police and at this stage no one has been arrested‚” said Makhele.

Asked if the murder had anything do with the controversial Estina dairy project‚ Makhele said they were at an early stage in the investigation and could not speculate.

“At this stage it is premature to say [if] the murder was linked to that. The investigating officer has to do the work and if this [the evidence] is linking it to anything‚ then that will be investigated. It is too early for now to say that or confirm any links. We are treating this case separately to any other information the public might have but if we find any links‚ definitely we will investigate‚” he said.

Ngwenya was one of the first Free State people to expose the controversial Estina dairy farm project‚ which was meant to benefit small-scale farmers. Altogether‚ R220-million was poured into the project‚ with only about R2-million being spent on the farm. There was little benefit derived by members of the local community.

Ngwenya died after he was severely beaten at Knelvlei farm‚ where he – as well as other livestock owners from Thembalihle‚ Vrede – kept their animals. He had apparently put up a shack at the farm in order to look after his stock.

Local chairman of the African Farmers Association of South Africa (Afasa) in Vrede‚ Ephraim Dlamini‚ said the murder of Ngwenya had shocked farmers in the area.

“We can’t believe that we’ve lost him and police should work around the clock to arrest and get more information of why Ngwenya was killed‚” said Dlamini. 

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