Mr Smit was known to be extremely vigilant about security, and the unlocked door hit people who knew it to be suspicious, said Julian Jansen, a reporter who covered the case. Mr Smit’s electric fence at the perimeter showed no signs of forced entry and video footage showed no assailants arriving or departing.
Yet in a country where farm killings have become a controversial and combustible issue, the murder of Mr. Smit immediately made headlines. Provincial authorities have pledged to implement a new farm security program, calling Mr. Smit’s murder “an attack on the economy.” On Fox News, Tucker Carlson devoted a segment to what he called “racist violence as brutal and indefensible as anything that happened under apartheid.”
While there are cases of white farmers being murdered in South Africa, sometimes brutally, there is no indication that this stands out from the generally high levels of violent crime in the country, according to researchers and fact-checking groups.
Dr Nechama Brodie, a researcher who studies violence in South Africa, said farm killings were generally associated with criminal violence, not politically motivated attacks on white farmers.
In Mr Smit’s case, media coverage begins to focus on an apparent conflict between his family and Ms Smit, his second wife.
Several months before his death, according to local media, he had struck Ms Smit from his will, excluding her from an estate worth at least $ 7 million. That figure included about $ 3 million from the sale of the occupied part of his farm to the local municipality.
But after being shot, Ms Smit produced a different will proclaiming her executor of the estate. Ms Smit claimed that she found the document folded in a Bible.