Get involved in farm security

Why on God’s green earth would anybody want to hurl a petrol bomb into the cabin of 36-year-old Christo van Rensburg’s bakkie? What could have been the motive behind such an abhorrent action?

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The assailants must have planned the attack carefully, because it’s clear that they knew what this young farmer from Heilbron’s routine was. It is beyond me that people can become so overwhelmed by evil and bloodlust that they loose all contact with reality and only concentrate on wanton harm and destruction. May God have mercy on their souls.

It is the agriculture writer’s bane to cover farm attacks and farm murders. I have covered literally hundreds of cases over the years, but the cruelty associated with these crimes still gets to me in a big way. However, the sad part is that farmers seemingly think that these crimes only happen to other people despite continuous calls by the leaders of organised agriculture for all farmers and landowners to get involved in rural safety and security structures.

Time and time again, I’ve had to write about rural violence and murder cases where the victims failed to implement even the most basic safety structures. For decades now farmers have been warned to be vigilant, not to keep large amounts of cash in the house, to keep detailed records of their farm workers, not to go out when they spot suspicious persons, and so on.

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I’m not implying this is what happened in Christo van Rensburg’s case, but this is exactly what happened in a hell of a lot of the other cases of farm attacks and farm murders. One of the things that worry me the most is that farmers stubbornly continue to sell livestock for cash on the farms, especially sheep. Come on people! Don’t you realise that you’re putting your families in grave danger?

Meanwhile, I take my hat of to the Heilbron Farm Watch. It’s a well-organised rural safety and security structure that involves all members of the farming community. These ladies and gentlemen have transcended petty differences. This is underscored by the fact that the chairperson is a member of Free State Agriculture and the vice chair a member of TAU SA. Well done!

TAU SA Henk van de Graaf commented the other day that it looks like farm attackers concentrate on farmers who don’t belong to any form of organised agriculture structure. Although I don’t have any statistics to prove it, I tend to agree with him. So guys, please join organised agriculture. It’s the right thing to do.

Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.