Stean van den Berg, who farms bees with his father Pedro, said they faced a loss of more than R1 million. It was, however, not only Van den Berg who suffered damage. Residents of the small Cape Winelands town were furious about the potential health impact and the noise created.
According to local resident and editor of Tulbagh eNews, Norman Collins, a crèche had to close early due to children complaining about headaches and respiratory problems.
Farmer’s Weekly also learnt that some residents complained about worsening sinus and asthma problems. Complaints were also received about the noise caused by the low-flying airplane.
Aerial crop spraying contractors have to comply with regulations aimed at ensuring the safety of operators, the public, well as wildlife. According to the South African Civil Aviation Technical Standards (SA CATS), when an agricultural operation is considered over a populous area (such as a town), clearance needed to be received from the local municipality.
However, according to Kinnibaas Truter, Western Cape manager of True North Aviation, the company conducting aerial crop spraying in the region, everything was done above board.
Truter said that they were not informed about the hives on the farm when they were spraying the canola fields. “According to my knowledge not even the farmer knew about the hives on his farm,” said Truter.
He added that they only sprayed registered chemicals and said that that he was now in contact with Collins to keep him updated with the company’s activities so that the residents could be informed timeously.