An elderly Tylden couple is distraught after being evacuated from their home following a police tip-off that they were in danger of an imminent farm attack.
Hilson, 87, and Isabel Shuman, 83, were “hastily” moved from their farm last month by police who said they had received intelligence that the elderly couple was in danger of an attack that was allegedly to happen on their farm.
“I was told by an employee at the farm that my parents had been moved to Cathcart because of the alleged pending attack,” said Ken Shuman, the son of the couple.
Ken, who is also a farmer, said his parents were “fearful, distraught and upset” over the evacuation and had since moved to Cape Town to temporarily live with their daughter.
“Obviously we were very shaken when we heard about an imminent attack. Farm murders occur and we are thankful that my parents were not hurt,” said Ken.
He said the family was, however, confused as to why his parents were still being advised against moving back to the farm, almost a month since the foiled alleged attack.
“We kept asking when my parents could move back, but we kept being told that they were still in danger because the ‘suspects’ were still on the loose.
“Of course we have questions about why people would come all the way from Cape Town, as we were told, to carry out an attack on my parents’ farm. The police say this could be a syndicate, but it is all too strange,” added Ken.
Hilson, a fourth-generation farmer, is a prominent merino sheep farmer who has been featured in several publications. Grey Craig farm, the couple’s home, has since been subject to stock theft.
“We were informed the alleged suspects had information that there were arms and money at the house. Since the evacuation we have had to bring in a security company from Komani because there have been two separate incidents of stock theft,” said Ken.
Mike Southey, a farmer from Komga, said the incident was raising many questions.
“The only question I have is why? First, no one tells you when they are going to attack your home, but now there seems to be an investigation that is dragging on while the Shumans stay away from their farm,” said Southey.
“Farm attacks are a terrible thing, but it seems strange why it was insisted they leave. There is now theft happening and the fear and confusion caused by this situation seems to be of benefit to some party,” added Southey.
Police spokesperson Namhla Mdleleni said because no actual attack had happened on the farm no case was opened by the police, which is contrary to what the family said it was told.
According to Ken, an investigation was still underway. “We have been told by investigating officers there is a file opened and under investigation, but we have not been given a case number,” said Ken.
“The Shuman family wishes a lead can be established so that this can come to an end. Farm murders are a serious matter and if such an attack was averted we are very grateful, but if this has become a nefarious ploy by someone who is using a very serious thing to cause alarm and benefit from it, that cannot be tolerated.
“The haste with which my parents were moved from the farm was very distressing. My father is suffering the onset of early dementia, and has short-term memory loss. This has caused great distress to my mother who described the hasty evacuation as very traumatic,” said Ken.
In a statement sent to The Rep by Isabel Shuman, she said: “The two investigators have been very pleasant and have kept the family informed. We thank them for the time they are spending on trying to solve this incident.”