‘Our lives are destroyed, hearts broken’: daughter on Hartswater murders
A glimmer of hope they would be found alive, that it was all just a bad nightmare, and a family looking forward to a much-anticipated camping trip.
These were the thoughts lingering in the mind of Heidie Taljaard on Wednesday about her kind and loving parents Danie Brand, 83, and Breggie, 73, and her “soft and fragile” sister Elzabie, 54.
At midday on Sunday Heidie and her husband Wikus, who live in Cape Town, shared a memorable phone call with them. Hours later the three would be caught up in a robbery, abducted and then murdered.
“We spoke for quite a while. Our family loves camping, so we were discussing a family trip, and we said we will take them out on a camp with a caravan.
“We had to cut the call because my father was boasting about my mother’s cooking and how he was looking forward to having Sunday lunch. They normally take naps after lunch so we left them,” an emotional Taljaard told TimesLIVE on Wednesday.
Later on Sunday the family could not be reached. The next day, Stephen Bennie, an old school friend of Heidi's, went out to the farm to check.
“I normally ask him to check on my parents every now and then, but on Monday he didn’t say much and all he said was that there had been a break-in and there was blood all over,” she said.
“He also said my parents, sister and their cars were missing. In that moment, our entire lives completely changed. I went into complete shock. It is extremely traumatic to know that your family is somewhere out there and there is nothing you can do.
“You are hopeful that they will be found alive, but then you also know the history of these farm attacks in the country,” she said.
Police spokesperson Brig Vish Naidoo confirmed that the bodies of Danie, Breggie and their daughter were found in Takaneng township, near Taung in the North West.
A massive search was launched when the family went missing after allegedly being attacked on their property in Hartswater, in the Northern Cape.
After a search, Danie’s Nissan Micra was found close to Taung. Elzabie's silver Mazda was found on the N18 close to Pudimoe after 11pm on Monday.
Naidoo confirmed earlier on Tuesday that three suspects were initially arrested — a 42-year-old woman and two males aged 18 and 19. He said police later arrested a fourth suspect, aged 20. By Tuesday evening, Naidoo said a fifth suspect, a 36-year-old man, had also been arrested.
Taljaard described her father as a loving man who wouldn’t harm anyone - a man of integrity and who was always willing to help those around him.
Breggie was a precious and loving soul, who would give her last to those she cared about and loved. She would also give medicine and clothing to those in need, Taljaard said.
“Elzabie was a soft and fragile person, who wouldn’t have been able to fight back.”
Taljaard said it has been “extremely difficult” to switch off and come to terms with the ordeal.
“Our lives are destroyed and it feels like you are drowning. We couldn’t imagine our lives without them. They were brutally murdered and it was all unnecessary. It was not a robbery, this was murder.
“We live in a nightmare that is real. My parents and sister were murdered by cowards. Dad Dan, mother Breggie and Elzabie, you were precious to us.”
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