By Tshepi Mmekwa
In a devastating incident that shocked the community, hotel owner Anneke Claassen (73) and her friend Hennie Claassen (77) were brutally attacked and caught in a fire in Ohrigstad, Limpopo, over the weekend.
I spoke to Anneke’s son, Jan-Daniël Claasen, and according to him, the tragic event unfolded when workers on the property noticed Hennie’s house engulfed in flames on Saturday, just before 4 pm on 3 June. Despite their efforts to rescue Hennie, he succumbed to his injuries after being assaulted and set alight while still alive. Meanwhile, members of the farmers’ association rushed to Anneke’s main house, approximately 120 meters away. Despite facing thick smoke and struggling to extinguish the flames, they could not save Anneke, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Jan-Daniël expressed his gratitude for the assistance and support, stating, “We are happy to accept all the help we can get from Action Society to get to the bottom of this.”
The investigation conducted by the Limpopo police is still underway, and no arrests have been made thus far. Witnesses reported seeing a man wearing a balaclava at the scene, as confirmed by the police.
Anneke’s safe had been tampered with, although nothing was stolen. Her cell phone was found at the scene, leaving investigators uncertain whether the motive was theft or a threat to their lives. The assailants used various items, such as carpets, rugs, bedding, and newspapers, to fuel the fire, resulting in Anneke’s unrecognizable state.
The loss of Anneke, a prominent figure in the area, deeply saddens the community. Her contributions to the local tourism industry and dedication to preserving the national monument Echo Caves will be remembered and cherished.
Anyone with information related to this incident is urged to come forward and assist in the ongoing investigation.
Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and friends affected by this tragedy. We join the community in their demand for justice and hope that the responsible parties are swiftly apprehended.