The brutal murder of prominent strawberry farmer Jeffrey Zetler has rocked the Stellenbosch farming community, and left a gaping hole in the heart of many.
Zetler was the owner of the iconic Mooiberge Farmstall, which is located on Stellenbosch’s R44. The farmstall is renowned for its delicious strawberries and strawberry byproducts. The Mooiberge Farmstall staff are still in shock at the sudden loss of their employer, who many described as a good man.
Speaking to News24, Sophia Engelbrecht, expressed her disbelief at losing the man who was more than just an employer to her. Engelbrecht had known Zetler since she was just a little girl, and called one of his farms home for many years.
Engelbrecht was on duty in the store when one of the tractor drivers rushed in on Saturday afternoon and told her what had happened to Zetler, who lay less than a kilometer away.
Zetler had just left Brakelsdal farm, a padkos supplier in Stellenbosch, with a bakkie full of employees when an unknown taxi blocked his exit at the gate of the farm.
Three or four suspects forced Zetler and his staff back to the office, where he was forced to open the door. The alarm was triggered upon opening the door and in the ensuing chaos, the assailants panicked and stabbed Zetler in the chest a total of six times. The assailants made off with a watch and all the cash from his wallet.
Zetler was killed on his wife’s birthday, leaving the family inundated with condolence messages.
Mayor of Stellenbosch, Gesie van Deventer, also expressed her condolences, and said a “big voice” has been lost in the Stellenbosch community.
“Mr Zetler made a huge contribution to our community and provided work to hundreds of residents. I am very shocked and sad about the incident. The prayers and condolences of our entire community are sent to Mr Zetler’s family and friends,” she said.
Zetler will be buried at the Stellenbosch Jewish Cemetery on Tuesday.