Forced to watch as partner bludgeoned by black attackers

Dan Knight
Dan Knight and Beth Bucher

Beth Bucher was forced to watch as her partner Dan Knight, a timber harvester, was bludgeoned to death by black attackers with hammers at their Underberg home this week.

In an exclusive interview, Bucher recounted the events of Thursday night when Knight, her partner of 18 years, was violently killed on the eve of his 56th birthday.

“They started beating Dan on the head with the hammers and as he cowered, one hit him hard on the back of the head with a monkey wrench… he groaned and slumped to the floor as they kicked him,” she said.

The incident has rocked the farming community at the foot of the Southern Drakensberg.

Bucher, 59, who has since moved to family in Durban, said they were about to have dinner when five men burst into their home.

“We were in the bad habit of eating dinner on our laps in the lounge and catching up with one another on the events of the day. As we were speaking five men wearing balaclavas and dark clothing burst through the back door which had been closed, but not locked.

“They ran through with their guns and some were carrying hammers, one of them was carrying a huge monkey wrench.”

She said that she was bound before they attacked Knight.

“They pulled Dan off the couch on to the floor and starting hitting him and kicking him. They pushed me back into an upright position and one held my head still and the other forced my eyes open and they made me watch.

“They started beating Dan on the head with the hammers and as he cowered, one hit him hard on the back of the head with a monkey wrench. He groaned and slumped to the floor and they began to kick him. They kept shouting at him demanding money. He couldn’t speak properly because they had broken his jaw and he mumbled that we didn’t keep cash, but he would write them a cheque for R20 000,” Bucher said.

“They hit him again in the face with the hammer reducing it to a bloody pulp,” she said.

As Knight took his last breaths, the intruders ransacked the house and took anything of value.

Bucher was locked in a bathroom after her assailants had tried to suffocate her with a surgical glove.

“I climbed out of a window and ran around to Dan. They had beaten him so badly that his face was unrecognisable and one had hit him so hard with a wrench that his skull was fractured and part of his brain matter had spilled on to the carpet where he lay. I put my hand near his mouth and there was no breath and I knew he was gone,” she said.

Bucher believed the men had been employees of one of Knight’s subcontractors.

“I recognised the gloves they were all wearing as the same that he bought for all of his staff. We had bought them two weeks before,” she said.

“I want them to suffer the same fate that Dan did. They must feel the pain that they inflicted on an innocent man. How people can do that to someone is unthinkable.

“Dan was an amazing man and there was no one who disliked him. He was loving and selfless and very protective of me and my children even though they were not his own. I don’t know what we will do without him,” she added.

A source close to the investigation confirmed that one of the vehicles that was stolen had been recovered. The driver fled when he was confronted by police.

Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker confirmed the incident but said no arrests had been made. – Sunday Tribune