Durban – An upstanding man and always willing to lend a hand to anyone in need.
That’s how the family of Trevor Murphy described the 55-year-old forester from Karkloof, who died on Friday morning after an attack at his farm in the early hours.
Reports indicated that three suspects entered the house at about 2am, stabbing Murphy repeatedly before ransacking the house, which is on the Karkloof Road just outside Howick. They fled in Murphy’s white Ford Ranger double cab and an employee raised the alarm.
Yesterday morning police and security companies were tracking the vehicle. It had been picked up on traffic cameras heading in the direction of Merrivale/N3 at 3.22am. Police confirmed late yesterday that the vehicle was still missing.
Speaking to the Independent on Saturday, Murphy’s brother-in-law, Rico Euripidou, said the family were still in the dark regarding details of the attack.
“We know that Trevor was attacked in his house in the early morning, he succumbed to his wounds and passed away.
“As a family we are just devastated, terribly sad. Trevor was an upstanding member of his community. He was always the person who volunteered to do fire duty and to help anyone in the community. He was always willing to lend a helping hand when a hand was needed.”
Euripidou said his brother and family had lived in the area for 25 years and that Murphy was the only family member in the house at the time of the attack.
Close family friend Cecil Hackney said Murphy was a Maritzburg College old boy who had studied forestry at Saasveld forestry and agricultural College in the Cape and later started his own timber contracting business. He was also involved in a sawmill enterprise with his family.
Hackney said Murphy had always had a good relationship with all his staff and it was an employee who heard the commotion while the attack was taking place.
“The intruders apprehended her, tied her up and forced her under a mattress,” said Hackney.
Another good friend of Murphy’s, Simon Thomas, who is with the KwaZulu-Natal Fire Protection Association, said Murphy often assisted with fires in the area.
“The first time I met him was when he was 10 years old and living with his family outside Wartburg and the next time I saw him was at Saasveld. Here in Howick, he ran a small sawmill and I’m just down the road, so we often saw each other. His nickname was ‘Spud’ and he was a helluva nice guy,” said Thomas.
Neighbour Grant Warren described Murphy as a quiet and hard-working person, saying, “we are all sickened“.
KZN SAPs spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed the attack on the farm and that Howick SAPS were investigating a case of murder and robbery. She said Murphy “was attacked by three unknown suspects who stabbed him multiple times on the body. They also robbed him of valuable items, such as a cellphones, a firearm, a television and laptops before fleeing.”
She confirmed that Murphy had been taken to hospital but he died because of his injuries.
She added: “The female employee who was at the scene alleged that she was sleeping in her room when she heard a noise and went to investigate. She noticed a suspect stabbing the deceased while others were busy ransacking the house.
’’The suspects spotted her, covered her face, tied her arms and legs and locked her in another room. After some time the victim managed to free herself and called for help,” said Gwala.
Yesterday, the attack was being widely circulated on social media, especially in the KZN Midlands region, with many condemning the senseless murder.
DA Howick councillor Hazel Lake extended condolences to the Murphy family and the community, saying this was the second such attack in the area recently.
“We hope SAPS give this their full attention and resources to this incident to keep the community safe,” said Lake.
DA Mooi-uMngeni constituency head Chris Pappas added: “It’s clear that SAPS must look into this area as a potential hot spot for farm-related crimes and deploy the necessary resources to protect our farmers and farmworkers.”
Murphy leaves a 14-year-old son, who was with his mother in Howick at the time of the attack.
The Independent on Saturday