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2016 delivers its fair share of really bad news

News - Date: 25 December 2016

Written by: Andries van Zyl / Viewed: 1021

 

Looking back on a hectic news year, the Zoutpansberger decided to take a closer look at the top ten most read website articles for 2016.

Sadly, the old newspaper saying that “bad news sells” again proofed true, but it was luckily not all bad.

Coming in at first place for the most read article, with 38 641 views, was the article about the Louis Trichardt family who were overpowered and tortured for hours on end in March this year. The family’s nightmarish ordeal started at around 03:00 on Sunday, 6 March. A gang of six ruthless thugs broke into the family’s home and overpowered the 77-year-old grandmother, her two grandsons (aged 30 and 23) and her eldest grandson’s 24-year-old wife. For approximately two hours the family members were severely beaten with bricks and a sjambok, burnt with an iron, as well as with boiling water. The young woman was also repeatedly raped by gang members. The thugs eventually fled, making off with, among others, the family’s monthly groceries, cellphones and a DVD-player.

On a more positive note, coming in at second place with 19 728 view, was the article about the major mall development planned for the border town of Musina. The R320 million development will see the expansion of the current Great North Plaza from 14 000m² to 34 000m² on a prime piece of CBD land acquired by the developers, directly adjacent to the current premises. Upon completion, the centre will be re-branded as the Musina Mall. The Great North Plaza was initially built and owned by the Solly Noor Property Group, but was sold to the Investec Property Fund for R145 million in 2011. Investec has now gone in partnership with the Moolman Group, who will develop the centre as co-owners. The sod-turning ceremony for the proposed new expansion of the Great North Plaza took place in January and it is envisaged that the development will be fully operational by April 2017.

Yet another “good news” development article made it into third place. The article about the R4.8 million development of the Tshakhuma Fruit Market appeared in the Zoutpansberger of 12 August and drew 17 702 views. The project was announced by the Department of Small Business Development’s Minister Lindiwe Zulu. She told the almost 400 vendors at the market that the government had long realised that small businesses formed part of the economic backbone of the country. The market infrastructure has been funded by the Department of Small Business Development through the Shared Economic Infrastructure Facility.

In fourth place, with 15 151 views, was the inspirational story of Stefan van den Heever (24) and his girlfriend Chané Crous (18). Stefan and Chané are both rehabilitated drug addicts and took the courageous step to tell of their struggle with drug addiction in the Zoutpansberger of 12 August. Their story also shed some light on the local drug trade.

Another article which attracted a lot of attention, with 14 335 views in fifth place, was that of former Makhado SAPS station commander Brig Francois Ramovha bidding Louis Trichardt and the Soutpansberg farewell. In the edition of 15 January, Brig Ramovha said goodbye to the region. Apart from being promoted to the rank of brigadier as from 1 January this year, he was also transferred to Bellville, Cape Town, in the Western Cape where he took up office as the provincial commander of the anti-corruption investigation unit (PDCI).

Position six again goes to another bad news story with 12 343 views. The country’s farming community was again shocked by the news of yet another brutal farm attack early that Monday morning, 25 April. The attack occurred just after 06:00 on a farm outside of Musina. Unconfirmed reports indicated that six armed men had attacked the 69-year-old Mr Johan Kok, a former town clerk of Musina. Kok’s friend, Ms Ina Genis, who was staying with him on the farm along with her son Danie, apparently managed to hide from the attackers. The attackers demanded money and weapons. Kok was forced to hand over his safe’s keys from which two weapons were removed. The attackers were not happy with this and demanded more weapons. Out of anger, they shot at Kok. Kok, however, returned fire. In the ensuing firefight, one attacker was shot and killed while a second was wounded in the leg. Kok himself suffered a wound to the head and arm. Shortly after the attack, police managed to arrest the wounded attacker with the help of a private helicopter. Miraculously, Kok survived.

The seventh most read article in 2016, with 11 407 views, was that of the mysterious death of Mr Tony Strydom (45). Strydom’s body was discovered the evening of 2 July not far from his home on a smallholding just outside Louis Trichardt. Initial reports indicated that he was found on the shooting range on the smallholdings with a bullet wound to the back, after he went shooting alone earlier that day. His weapon was, however, never recovered, nor has anyone been arrested for his death.  

Although hidden away on page 10 of the Zoutpansberger of 15 January, the article about two bakkies found burnt out after being hijacked was the eighth most read article for the year with 9 487 views. Both bakkies were discovered not far from each other in a piece of veld near Madombidzha. The one bakkie belonged to Mr Thomas Madavhu. His vehicle was hijacked on Christmas eve the previous month. His brother, Mr John Madavhu, a Louis Trichardt hawker, stopped to give a lift to two hitchhikers. One man jumped in the front of the bakkie with him, while the other man jumped on the back. Moments later another four men appeared from the bushes. John drove off with the men, but upon reaching Belkhado farm, the man seated in front with him produced a pistol, hit him through the face and ordered him to stop. As the men at the back jumped off, John managed to get out of the bakkie and fled into the bushes. The hijackers then drove off with the bakkie. To this day, the reason as to why the bakkies were stolen, burnt and dumped in the veld, is unclear.

Another short article that attracted a lot of attention was that of the horror crash along the Madombidzha road on Tuesday evevening, 25 October. Four people burnt to death following the accident. A total of 8 386 people viewed the article.

The tenth most read article, with 7 461 views, was again one of brutal violence. It was a follow-up article on the arrest of three suspects for the brutal murder of well-known Levubu farmer Mr Hennie Bonnema (62) on 18 October. The article appeared in the Zoutpansberger of 4 November and gave feedback on the court appearance of the three suspects on Monday, 31 October. The three, who were arrested by Levubu police on Friday, 28 October, were all denied bail.

Stefan van den Heever and his girlfriend Chané Crous, both rehabilitated drug addicts, took the courageous step to tell of their struggle with drug addiction.

 

Readers really seemed interested in economic development news. The article about the R320 million mall development in Musina was the second most read article for 2016.

Yet another “good news” development article made it into third place. The article about the R4.8 million development of the Tshakhuma Fruit Market appeared in the Zoutpansberger of 12 August and drew 17 702 views.

Brig Francois Ramovha.

Mr Tony Strydom’s body was discovered the evening of 2 July not far from his home on a smallholding just outside Louis Trichardt.

Although hidden away on page 10 of the Zoutpansberger of 15 January, the article about two bakkies found burnt-out after being hijacked was the eighth most read article for the year with 9 487 views. 

The tenth most read article, with 7 461 views, was again one of brutal violence. It was a follow-up article on the arrest of three suspects for the brutal murder of well-known Levubu farmer Mr Hennie Bonnema (62) on 18 October. 

 
 

Andries van Zyl

Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.

Email: andries@zoutnet.co.za

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