Community members are in shatters after Aron Mutavhatsindi, 42, was brutally shot in an open field near the informal settlement Matshelapad, outside Krugersdorp on Saturday.
The dusty roads to his house are lined with children pushing wheelbarrows with 10-litre water bottles.
Residents get their water from a tap situated at the corner of a street. This is their only water supply in the area.
On Tuesday morning, the family of Mutavhatsindi sat on wooden benches on the porch of their modest house.
They comfort each other with the words: “Everything will be okay.”
Mutavhatsindi’s nephew, Ramashia Ebraimy, who witnessed his uncle’s killing, spends most of his days with his uncle.
Mutavhatsindi worked as a tractor driver at Bartlet Poultry Farm in Tarlton, Krugersdorp, on the West Rand.
The farm’s general manager, Peter Bartlet, said on Tuesday the company’s staff and owners were deeply saddened by the incident and vowed to work with the police to assist them with their investigation.
The company said it had assisted Mutavhatsindi’s family by facilitating the prompt payment of his funeral benefits in terms of a pension fund.
Ebraimy said his uncle used to take the tractor home without any problems.
Ebraimy was cleaning his car on Saturday morning when he saw a tractor, driven by his uncle, being followed by two vans. Out of curiosity, he got into his car and pursued them.
“My uncle saw me and slowed down. As he was doing that, the white man came around before the tractor came to a halt, took out his gun and shot him,” he said.
According to Ebraimy, he got out of his car and immediately ran to the tractor. His voice broke when he said: “It was too late. My uncle was busy dying.”
“We watched him (the security guard) leave and thought the police let him go but we later found out that he was taking himself to the police station.”
On Monday, News24 reported that Mutavhatsindi was allegedly shot and killed by his employer, a farm owner, on January 6. This was confirmed by Gauteng police spokesperson, Captain Kay Makhubela.
However, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane later confirmed that a security officer appeared in the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court on Monday for Mutavhatsindi’s murder.
“I’m not okay with what happened on Saturday. I am heartbroken. I never imagined that things would turn out the way they did,” a resident, Mokgadi Phithi, told News24.
“This is the time when we should be living in harmony because we are born of the same womb,” Phithi said.
Phithi claimed that police officers prevented an ambulance from entering the scene.
“They [police] said the community was fighting but the community was not fighting. They were trying to ensure that the ambulance gains entry and the person, with God’s mercy, could have survived. But he died there.”
On Tuesday, Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said police would not be drawn into commenting on what she said seemed like “hearsay”.
Freedom Front Plus ward councillor Amanda de Lange has been living in Tarlton for almost 16 years.
For the past 14 years, De Lange says she has been trying to get proper housing for the residents of Matshelapad.
She was also the Krugersdorp Community Policing Forum chairperson for seven years.
When receiving the news about what had happened to Mutavhatsindi, she said she was shocked, sad and disheartened.
“The initial story was vague and I immediately wanted to know why such a thing happened. I could not think of any person who would shoot one of his workers. The farmers are very caring towards their workers,” De Lange said.
De Lange added that farmers in the area took several years to raise funds to build houses for residents of Matshelapad and another informal settlement, Smokedown.
She said not all similar incidents are a “black and white” thing.
“Whatever the outcome, the murder of a husband who was a spouse and father should have been prevented. My hope is that the incident doesn’t racially divide residents in the area,” she said.
De Lange is a firm believer that the community will rise above the incident.
“The farmers and the workers are not enemies of each other. It is a community that cares for each other.
“I hope the community can stand together to ensure justice prevails. No matter who was right and who was wrong, we must learn from mistakes and strive for better.”