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FARM KILLING

Ficksburg man with history of violence faces murder charge after shooting of young farmer

Ficksburg man with history of violence faces murder charge after shooting of young farmer
Reuter and Evan Sorour. (Photo: Supplied)

The gunning down last month of a young Free State farmer has ignited tensions in a Ficksburg farming community.

Evan Sorour, 28, was the fourth in the Sorour generation on the farm Uitkyk in the Free State town of Ficksburg.

He was shot five times, allegedly by 37-year-old livestock speculator, Rudi Gericke, who lives on a neighbouring farm.

On 8 January, Evan and his father, Reuter, responded to a call about some of the Sorour’s cattle having broken through an adjoining fence. Father and son then went out on their motorbikes to herd their cattle back to their farm.

Rudi Gericke turned up and allegedly threatened and chased both men in his Land Cruiser. He allegedly assaulted Reuter, then shot Evan, later setting fire to the motorbike Evan had been riding.

ficksburg sourour murder

Reuter and Evan Sorour. (Photo: Supplied)

Now, Reuter Sorour is looking for answers.

“There was no reason. No provocation. No quarrel, no altercation. Nothing. Rudi just suddenly arrived and went after us. What did Evan and I do to deserve that?”

Gericke is under police guard in the Bethlehem Mediclinic. He is being treated for a bullet to the hip allegedly fired by Evan in self-defence.

Charges

Gericke has been charged with murder, attempted murder and malicious damage to property. This was confirmed by Free State police spokesperson Sergeant Christopher Mophiring. 

Another question Reuter asks is why Gericke had his firearm on him that day. This was after a case of assault stemming from an incident in August last year was still pending against Gericke. His firearm was confiscated after his arrest, but while out on bail it was returned to him by police in October.

“Evan was shot with that very weapon that the police returned to Gericke. Under the circumstances, and considering the Firearms Control Act, there is no plausible reason why they returned his firearm to him. Yet they did,” said Reuter.

Mophiring confirmed to Daily Maverick that the police had returned the firearm to the accused, including Gericke, on an order of the magistrate presiding over the court case. “Not doing so would have put us in contempt of court,” he stated.

Severe assault

During the incident in August, Gericke and friends Kleinjan le Grange and Theo Louw allegedly severely assaulted a well-known farmer in Ficksburg, Morgan Barrett, and others at the Ficksburg Golf and Country Club. After watching a rugby game, a brawl broke out during which Barrrett was pummelled unconscious.

Jurg Kruger, a private investigator and former policeman, said he alerted police about Gericke’s behaviour after this incident.

“I wrote to the police commissioner that what’s happening here will lead to someone’s death. But I felt I was just being ignored.”

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Barrett’s family has been farming in Ficksburg since 1867. He told Daily Maverick how he grew up with Gericke and Le Grange and knows them well. 

“In fact, I was master of ceremonies at Le Grange’s wedding years back. Another member of our farmer’s association was the MC at Gericke’s wedding. So, we all know them going back a long way.”

But tensions had been building for months before the assault at the golf club.

In February last year, when Barrett was still chairperson of the local farmer’s association, Le Grange and Gericke applied for membership. The majority of the members voted against it, reportedly out of concern over the men’s business dealings.

When Barrett told Gericke their application for membership had been rejected, he recalls that Gericke “didn’t take it very well”.

Community angered

Evan’s murder has left the Ficksburg community devastated and angry. Hundreds of people attended the young man’s memorial service at Uitkyk. 

Here, Reuter was fiercely outspoken in his tribute to his son.

“Those who supported the actions of Evan’s murderer lately, and still do, must own up to it. They are complicit in his murder. He has been abetted in his actions through the support, or the lack of action, by friends, family, colleagues, business partners and others.”

Donovan O’Neale, a friend of Evan’s sister, Robyn, has since launched an online petition to request the magistrate’s court that Gericke, once out of hospital, not be granted bail. It has already been signed by close to 10,000 people.

He is also raising funds online via the Justice for Evan Fund on the BackaBuddy website to assist the Sorour family in obtaining the best possible investigative and legal assistance.

Gericke’s next court appearance is scheduled for Friday, 24 February. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • virginia crawford says:

    We regularly see that someone ‘with a history of violence’ is free and armed, and ready to commit violence again. A sense of impunity encourages violence. Clearly there are questions that need to be directed at the magistrate and the decision to return his gun. It’s all very sad.

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