Slaughtered: Roelof du Plessis, 46, was shot dead in front of his wife Laura, 44 and son on their farm
After listening to the latest television news about the health of Nelson Mandela, a South African family living not far from the former President’s hospital unit turned in for the night.
But Roelof and Laura du Plessis, a married couple with four children who live on a heavily fortified farm outside Pretoria, did not have a peaceful night’s rest.
In fact they were about to become the latest victims of what white pressure groups in this troubled nation say is nothing less than a savage war against them.
Hearing noises outside their home, Mr du Plessis, 46, got out of bed and ran outside.
To his horror, he found his 19-year-old son being held with a gun to his head by a gang of five armed black attackers.
Father and son were ordered to lie on the ground. The invaders did not ask for money or the keys to the expensive vehicles in the drive. They were there only to terrorise and kill.
Hearing voices outside, Laura, 44, came out of her bedroom to investigate — and her torch illuminated an awful scene as the gang pointed guns at her husband.
Her son managed to get up and sprint off into the darkness when the men were confused by the flashlight. But Du Plessis was not so lucky.
The intruders opened fire at once, shooting him six times through the throat, lungs and abdomen.
As he writhed on the ground in agony, the men ran off into the night leaving empty bullet cartridges littering the yard.
In the darkness, Laura attempted heart massage on her husband, who could still talk despite his appalling injuries, but to no avail.
When I arrived at the farm on Thursday and was invited in by Mrs du Plessis, I found her with blood still caked under her fingernails after she’d cradled her dying husband.
‘He was shot through the lungs and I was doing CPR,’ she told me, between huge sobs. ‘He said “please go and fetch the car and take me to hospital”. But he was too badly hurt and he died in my arms.’
In the morning, when white friends from neighbouring farms followed the trail of the raiders, they discovered the men had carefully cut through fences and skirted areas with security patrols — suggesting how closely they had planned their route of attack.
‘It is definitely coming down to a race thing,’ Laura du Plessis told me as she was comforted by her family. ‘They hate white people. We have never had a fight with any black people. I always stop and give others a lift. We employ black people.