12/02/2007 14:52 - (SA)
Johannesburg - Four men will appear in the Memel magistrate's court on Tuesday for robbing and gang-raping an Eastern Free State farmer, Free State police said.
Police spokesperson constable Mmako Mophiring said the four armed men raped the 33-year-old woman on Friday after she had given them cash, her wedding ring, watches, bracelets and bank cards with pin codes.
Her disabled husband, 48 was unharmed.
Police were investigating possible links to two attacks in October and January in which four men used the same modus operandi to rob farmers, Mophiring said. There was no rape in those incidents.
In Friday's attack, the gang - armed with two firearms, a crowbar and a knife - entered the house through a kitchen door left unlocked for farm workers to help the wheelchair-bound man.
The couple were asleep when the robbers, aged between 20 and 25, stormed into their bedroom at midnight.
Although they took the keys to an old Mercedes-Benz, they left the car behind. They found nothing inside the safe.
Newcastle police made an arrest on Saturday after being told that a man had used a credit card not belonging to him in a local shop.
He led the police to three other men, he claimed had given him the card, which was later found to belong to the couple. It had been used twice in Newcastle before the arrests, Mophiring said.
The man initially arrested would appear in court separately from the others on a charge of fraud, Mophiring said.
"The apprehension of the four suspects within 24 hours shows that we are heading somewhere," said Free State provincial police commissioner Amon Mashigo.
Farmers and farm workers would be protected, served and their complaints attended to on the same level as any other citizen, Mashigo said.
Memel is in the Eastern Free State, near the border with KwaZulu-Natal.