Neighbour tells of farmer’s axe attack trauma

Farmer intends on selling his farm

Image: Supplied

Bill Gravett, the 63-year-old farmer who was savagely attacked with an axe and a knife on his farm on the outskirts of Addo at the weekend, has moved back to East London and intends selling his farm.

This emerged yesterday after police announced that the Provincial Organised Crime Investigation Unit had taken over the case because it was classified as a farm attack – a serious crime with the same status as hijackings and gang-related crimes.

Police spokeswoman Captain Gerda Swart said the attack happened at 6.40pm on Saturday when Gravett was accosted by three men while he was outside feeding his horses.

“The suspects assaulted him with an axe and demanded the keys to his safe. They then forced the complainant into his bakkie and drove to a neighbouring farm,” she said.

“The suspects then ordered the complainant to open the neighbour’s house and they also ransacked the neighbour’s house.”

Swart said Gravett was then driven to a shack, believed to be somewhere in Motherwell, where he was tied up and kept in a room for the night.

“The suspects later drove the complainant to a service station in Kwazakhele where they released the victim and returned his bakkie.”

Robbery victim Elizabeth de Villiers, a friend and neighbour of Gravett, said she had been shocked by the incident and particularly by the fact that the suspects had left their axe in her bedroom, next to her bed.

“His daughter fetched him after he was treated and has taken him back to East London, where he is originally from,” De Villiers, who lost her first husband, Andre, in a brutal attack on their farm more than 10 years ago, said.

“If I had not got sick and decided to go with my husband to our farm in the Karoo, I would have been here when they came.

“We know that people were watching the farm for a few days and I had had a horrible feeling all week, so yes, it was a narrow escape.”

De Villiers said Gravett, who is fluent in isiXhosa, had overheard his attackers discussing whether to kill him or not.

She said he had suffered extensive injuries and had been severely traumatised.

“But this is my home, I will not be pushed off by criminals,” De Villiers said.