Invasions: East Griqualand farmers threaten to ‘shoot now, ask later’

2011-07-26 00:00

TENSIONS between farmers and some local community members in East Griqualand have reached tipping point, with farmers threatening to “shoot invaders on sight” to protect themselves and their property.

The farmers claim they are under siege from some local community members, who want them out of the area by 2012.

The East Griqualand area includes Kokstad, New Amalfi, Cedarville, Swartberg, Franklin and Matatiele.

In a petition signed by more than 15 farmers, they said they have been victims of intimidation, farm attacks, stock theft, fuel and equipment theft, death threats and in one case murder.

They said that although the problems have continued over the years, they have recently reached boiling point.

Last year The Witness reported that farm of dairy farmer Allistair McDougal’s was attacked.

The invaders burned his hay, hacked to death 39 of his cattle and damaged his dairy.

They also left a chilling message warning him off the land. They said he should vacate the area within a month or he will be killed.

McDougal was allegedly accused of hiring foreigners to work on his farm instead of locals.

He said the people he worked with were workers he came with from Limpopo. Several locals were arrested in connection with the incident, but the case collapsed and was thrown out of court for lack of evidence.

Since then, the farmers said, the situation has escalated and they have been left with little choice but to protect themselves in whichever way they can.

Andre Senekal, a farmer in the area, said they had been left with little choice.

“Recently two bulls were stolen from one of the farms here and were slaughtered in that community that we are experiencing problems with.

“Even when the police are informed they either fail to make an arrest or the case collapses in court and there seems to be a lack of co-ordination between the police and the justice department.”

Senekal warned that if the intimidation and thefts persist and if they find themselves under attack they will protect themselves.

“There is one person in the area who we have discovered from our intelligence that he wants to drive out all the farmers in this area and take over the land. He has allegedly set himself a deadline of 2012.”

Senekal added, “If we are invaded we will now shoot first and ask questions later.”

Koos Marais of the Kwanalu security desk said the agricultural union is aware of the poor relations in the area and has asked the ministry of police to investigate.

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