Robert Lynn, 66, whose legs and arms were covered with stab wounds, burns, bruises and stitches, told The Telegraph how and his wife Sue Howarth, 64, were asleep in bed in their house near the trout fishing village of Dullstroom when two gun shots went off at around 2.10 am last Sunday.
Before he could check on his wife, who he met at a dart tournament in Johannesburg in 1977, the men had “burst through” the bedroom window.
Mr Lynn climbed out of bed and one of the men hit him on the back of the head with the butt of a gun and dragged him into the lounge.
e told the men he only had a 320 rand (£20) and tried to negotiate a “gentleman’s agreement” with them by giving them his bank card with its pin code and promising not to report it missing for the next 24 hours.
But the men refused the offer and instead sat him down on a chair in his lounge, found a blow torch that is normally used for stripping paint and started to burn him.
“They burned from my feet up to my legs and on my stomach,” Mr Lynn said. “That’s when they ran out of gas… lucky for me.”
The attackers covered Mr Lynn’s face with a plastic bag and threw him into the back of a pickup truck. Mr Lynn, who was wearing only his boxer shorts, was able to bite a hole in the bag so that he could breath.
Moments later he heard a thump as the men threw Mrs Howarth into the back of the pickup truck as though she were “a bag of potatoes”.
They drove around for some time before, before they stopped, pulled Mr Lynn out and marched him through the veld and through a barbed wire fence.
“He told me to kneel and that’s it – I woke up with my arms behind my back and on my left hand side looking horizontally and it was black. It was all black. I couldn’t see a thing.”
He crawled around 30 metres and then walked towards a road where found his wife, struggling to stay alive.
Several cars and trucks drove by before two men who were towing a fishing boat stopped to help. Mr Lynn was taken to hospital and sedated. Mrs Howarth died on Tuesday morning.
Mrs Howarth was born in Southsea in Portsmouth. She was the daughter of a Royal Navy officer and loved horses and dogs, especially border collies. Mr Lynn said she won his heart when she helped him stand up after he had fallen off a chair at a dart tournament in Johannesburg.
I don’t know what they achieved. That’s what I want to try and find out
What troubles him most about his wife’s murder is that the men appeared to have no real motive other than stealing a small amount of money. “These people… I don’t know what kind of goal they have in life. I don’t know what they achieved. That’s what I want to try and find out.
“There is nothing here. They killed my wife in a ditch… I don’t know why I survived. Why should I have survived?” Mr Lynn said he doesn’t know he will do next.
He is retired, has no children and hasn’t thought about returning to his hometown of Belfast in Northern Ireland. “Sue’s dogs are taken care of. I would like to give everything I own away and disappear for good,” he said.
Three men, who were arrested in front of a tavern in the town of Belfast late last week, appeared in court on Monday morning in connection with the attack but were not officially charged and so cannot yet be named.
They were remanded in custody will appear again on March 10.
Outside the court more than a hundred farmers gathered to show their support to the couple and to plead for the government to do more to protect farmers.
“Not much was stolen,” he said. “The torture and the beating and the shooting is just totally unnecessary. They could have just tied them up, taken their goods and left. This was torture.”
According to the group Afriforum 345 farmers were murdered in South Africa in 2016. Mrs Howarth was the 15th person living on a farm to be killed in February alone.