Kirkwood citrus farm manager stabbed to death
A Kirkwood farm manager was fatally stabbed as he and his son tried to fight off three intruders on Sunday night.
Duaene Truter, 51, was stabbed multiple times in the back during the scuffle at about 7pm on the Dunbrody Estates Farm in the Sunland area between Addo town and Kirkwood.
He died in hospital later. Truter’s 18-year-old son, Dean, escaped with minor scratches and abrasions, while his wife, Esther, also 51, was unhurt.
The Truters’ daughter, Nadine, 22, was staying over at a friend’s house at the time.
The Truters had arrived back home the day before, after spending several days at a school rugby tour in the Western Cape.
The farm is a major citrus producer partly owned by Unifrutti South Africa – a global fruit exporter and supplier. Truter managed one of the firm’s citrus farms.
Devastated workers, still in a state of shock, described the attack as outrageous.
The Dunbrody Estate Farm is subdivided into several plots and farms, which form part of the company’s national operation.
Police spokesperson Captain Gerda Swart said the family had been confronted by a single intruder at first.
“The father and his son managed to overpower the suspect, when two more suspects entered the house.
“One of the suspects started stabbing the father in his back during the scuffle,” she said.
“The father and son then released the [man they had overpowered] and they [intruders] ran away.” All three were wearing balaclavas.
Duaene was rushed to hospital but died soon afterwards.
Swart said the police K9 unit and officials from surrounding police stations had searched the bushes until the early hours of Monday.
She said while the suspects appeared to have fled emptyhanded, the family was still taking stock inside the house.
Unifrutti farm manager Steve Lloyd said the Truters had returned from a school rugby tour on Saturday as Dean – who is in grade 12 at Brandwag High School in Uitenhage – was on the rugby team.
Dean had taken part in the Landbouskool Oakdale’s rugby tournament near Heidelberg and the family had stopped off at a nearby relative’s home for a few days after the match.
“We are trying to establish exactly what transpired as there appears to be some confusion,” Lloyd said.
“We are liaising with the police and, obviously, the family is completely shattered – as are all the staff.”
Lloyd said minutes after the attack, Dean managed to use Truter’s phone to call another farm manager for help.
“The farm manager alerted other staff and people who rushed over to assist.
“But the suspects had fled by then,” he said.
“A message for help went out on a WhatsApp group that operates in the area, which saw several farmers and residents respond to help them.”
Lloyd said police were still on the scene on Monday afternoon and the family were too traumatised to talk.
“The family is still understandably in shock.
“Such an incident is very overwhelming.”
He said Truter had been a personal friend and colleague for the better part of 15 years.
“He started at the pack house, where he worked for just short of two years when he was given the farm manager post. He has been running that farm for about 13 years in total,” Lloyd said.
“Everyone loved him – he was such a major part of our team.
“We are all shocked and I cannot even believe it.”
In February, several residents of Addo – which borders the Kirkwood area – spoke about how crime in the area had spiked.
This as the understaffed Addo police station tackles the impossible task of policing the vast area that stretches from the end of the Addo Elephant National Park to an area near Uitenhage (Barkley Bridge) and from Dunbrody near Kirkwood to about Kinkelbos.
Sundays River Citrus Company managing director Hannes de Waal said the entire community was saddened.
“This is what we have been warning about,” he said.
“We are spending so much time in empowering the community and upliftment projects.
“When something like this happens, it just dampens the mood for everyone.”
De Waal, who has known the Truters for several years, said they had heard about the attack on Sunday evening.
“He [Truter] was such a nice guy – everyone liked him.
“Always friendly and happy, helping everyone where he could,” he said.
“This is a loss for the community.
“In the citrus industry, he was widely known as one of the best farm managers in the game.”