A British farmer living in Swaziland has been shot dead by suspected cattle rustlers, it has been revealed yesterday.
Charles Davies, 52, was attacked in the bedroom of his 300-acre ranch near Nhlangano in the south of Swaziland.
The farmer, who was originally from Cheltenham but moved to Africa in 1986, was shot once in the heart and twice in the head on Sunday morning.
It is believed he was gunned down at point-blank range by cattle thieves after his large herd of dairy cows.
His death follows only a week after a previous attack where he was shot at by trespassers.
Close friend Penny Brickwell, who also relocated from Cheltenham to Swaziland some years ago, called the attack ”barbaric”.
She said: ”It is so shocking. I’m devastated. It’s so barbaric and sad. I want to see these people brought to book.
”He’d had problems with cattle rustlers over the past few months.
”I spoke to him on the phone last week and he said someone had got on to the farm but his dogs had alerted him.
”He went out to have a look and found the farm gate open. Someone took a shot at him and he fired back.
”Charles said he had his pump-action shotgun and he would be okay. On Sunday morning he’d been on the phone in his room.
”When he put the receiver down he was shot at through the window. He shot back but it looks like someone came through the hallway and into the bedroom.”
The attack occurred around 7am on Sunday morning. Mr Davies, who studied agriculture before moving to Africa, lived alone on the ranch and his body was found by a female worker.
Police in Swaziland, which is almost entirely surrounded by South Africa, have launched a murder investigation but so far have not made any arrests.
Ms Brickwell added that the killing was yet another example of the ”lawlessness” typical of the area.
She said: ”This is the way things are out here. We have bars on on our windows and we live behind gates.
”There are lots of burglaries. It can be pretty lawless and people carry guns. Farming was his complete passion, he loved every minute of it.”
Farmer Richard Robinson, from Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, paid tribute to Mr Davies, who he knew as a boy.
He said: ”He would come to the farm every chance he got to help out. I think I became a -bit of a father figure to him.
”He loved the cattle and had such an adventurous spirit. He was very intelligent and, although he was a diabetic and needed insulin, he never let that hold him back.
”He was an entrepreneur and set himself up farming with next to nothing. This is only just starting to sink in. It’s devastating.”
It is thought a post-mortem examination will be carried out this week.