Free State farmers on the Free State’s border with Lesotho are for all intents and purposes left to their own devices as far as safety and security is concerned.
They receive very little, if any, support from state entities such as the South African Police Service (SAPS) or the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), according to Jakkals le Roux, chairperson of Free State Agriculture’s rural safety committee.
He was responding to the recent attack on the farm Balmacara near Zastron, in which three farmworkers were shot and wounded by attackers believed to be from Lesotho.
“The border area between the province and Lesotho is increasingly subjected to crime carried out by that country’s citizens. Stock theft, farm attacks and the theft of infrastructure are high on the list. This could eventually cause landowners and farmers to leave the area because it has become impossible for them to farm sustainably and profitably,” he told Farmer’s Weekly.
Le Roux also expressed serious concern about the plight of developing farmers on the South African side of the border, in particular.
According to him, they were targeted by stock thieves in a brazen and aggressive manner. Stock thieves reportedly simply took these farmers’ animals, threatening to kill them should they resist the theft or report it to the SAPS.
Le Roux said the situation had become untenable and was severely compounded by the inability and unwillingness of the SAPS and SANDF members deployed in the area to carry out their duties.
“I [cannot] understand why the political powers in the Free State are so lax about taking action and implementing measures to safeguard the area.
“They are guilty of a lot of talk and no practical action whatsoever. I take my hat off to the few members of the SAPS who really try their best, but the failure and inability of the rest to carry out their duties in an acceptable manner is seriously worrying. The same goes for members of the SANDF,” he stated.
The farmworkers on Balmacara were shot several times by five attackers believed to be from Lesotho, according to an FSA statement.
The attackers reportedly crossed back over the border into Lesotho after the incident.