A Hawke's Bay couple is recovering this week from a terrifying, violent attack at their farm in South Africa, where they had intended to spend Christmas.

Piet and Jacoba van Wyk emigrated from South Africa to Takapau eight years ago.

They bought a lifestyle block but still regularly return to a farm Mr van Wyk owns near the town of Boshof in the heart of Free State Province, and to visit friends and family.

Their daughter, Rhodien van Niekirk, who also lives in Takapau, said that last Sunday morning Mr van Wyk, 71, and Mrs van Wyk, 63, went to check on their livestock on the farm.


"When they returned to the farmhouse at approximately 3pm, they were fetching water for their pigs when Jacoba screamed as she saw three young men storming towards them from both sides of the house."

The three had firearms, which they had taken from Mr van Wyk's gun safe inside the house, and had started shooting at the couple, who had quickly run into the house and locked the front door behind them, Mrs van Niekirk said.

The men had shot at them through the glass and steel plate of the front door, then had run around the house to the back door.

Mr and Mrs van Wyk had also rushed to the back door to try to block it from the inside, but the three men shot and hacked (with a shovel and the butts of the rifles) the wooden back door to tatters and gained access to the house.

"They bashed Piet over the head with the shovel and the butt of a shotgun. The attack was so violent that the butt of the shotgun broke.

"The men then overpowered Piet and Jacoba and tied their hands and feet together. They continuously punched and kicked them violently. They cut and ripped their shirts off and boiled water to pour over them.

"They were torturing Piet and Jacoba, telling them, 'We are going to kill you', while demanding money and diamonds," Mrs van Niekirk said.

At one point, one of the attackers, who had a bottle of whisky, tried to force Mrs van Wyk to drink it, while telling her that he was going to rape her. He violently stomped and stood on the couple's legs.

"He then dragged Jacoba to the bathroom, tied her hands behind her back and shoved her into the bathtub. He shoved a potato into her mouth and secured it in place by tying a sock around her head."

Mrs van Niekirk said the attackers had then fled in a car Mr van Wyk had borrowed, at the same time taking the keys to a ute that was there so they could not be followed.

In touch with her parents by phone following the incident, Mrs van Niekirk said police found the car in a town about 70km away but the attackers were still at large.

After the attack, the pair went to a doctor, and were recovering although still shaken up. They were due to return to Takapau on January 7.