The farming community is in great shock after four members of the same family were shot dead on a farm outside Balfour in Mpumalanga.

The bodies of 48-year-old Louis Smuts, his 42-year-old wife Belinda and his parents, Gert, 78, and Paulina, 77, were found on Modderbult farm, about 20km from Balfour on Tuesday morning.

Belinda is survived by two children, Marcel, 21, and Cherize, 18.

All four had been shot in the head.

Their deaths brought the number of people murdered on farms and smallholdings so far this month to 11, said AfriForum’s head of community safety Ian Cameron. There were 30 farm attacks during this period.

“They children are being forced into adulthood because their family has been wiped out,” AfriForum’s Nantes Kelder said.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said two people have been arrested.

The Toyota Prado in which the attackers fled was found in Balfour.

Wouter Nel, the chairperson of the Balfour Farmers’ Association, said Belinda’s body lay on a couch in the lounge. She had been covered with a blanket, with only her head showing.

Paulina was shot dead in the main bedroom and her body was also covered with a blanket.

The bloodied body of Louis, a boilermaker, was found near the back door.

“They had thrown a black tarpaulin over him,” said Nel.

He said Gert had been killed in a flat in which he and his wife lived, which was about 30m from the main house.

“We suspect that the attack must have happened on Monday evening, because Louis’s cattle weren’t in the kraal as was always the case.”