No more, say fed-up farmers

2015-04-29 06:00

FOURIESBURG. – Fed-up farmers in Fouriesburg say they have had it with their Lesotho counterparts deliberately letting their animals graze on their farms across the Caledon River and have vowed to kill any trespassing animals and their shepherds. Police, however, said they had agreed to let the animals graze on their farms in exchange for payment.

Maphale Moloi, the desperate farmers’ spokesperson, said although they had never threatened to harm their neighbours before, this was going to change.

“I am going to buy bullets and kill at least ten of them. That is the only way that the South African Police Service (SAPS) would react. Our police are not protecting us. We have reported this crime many times, but they have done nothing. I think we should now take the law into our own hands. I am even thinking of joining the Boko Haram so that they can help me with these trouble-makers,” he said.

He said they would never stop from farming near the river.

According to Moloi, each of the farmers had lost about R1,2 million a year because of the damage caused by their neighbours.

“We have been talking to those people for a long time and they don’t listen. We will show them what we are made of. They are unrepentant because every time we find them on our farms they fight with us as if the farms belong to them,” he said.

Moloi said they even engaged one of the village chiefs on the matter who had promised to talk to his people. “We were sitting on the South African side of the river with the chief and his people on the other side, just to show you how desperate we are on this matter,” he said.

During Express Eastern Free State’s recent visit to the farms the cattle were standing in the river. According to Moloi, the animals flee to the Lesotho side of the river whenever they see or hear cars approaching.

“The only people they (the people from Lesotho) are afraid of are the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), but they (the SANDF) are not helping us in this situation. I always thought it was illegal for one to cross the river from one country to another, but it is happening here like never before,” he said.

Const. Maselela Langa, in the Free State communication unit of the South African Police Services (SAPS), denied allegations that the police were not helping the farmers. He added that there was no case registered with regards to the Fouriesburg farmers and the Lesotho citizens.

“During our own investigations, we found that those farmers had an agreement with the people to let their animals graze on their farms after they had harvested. The agreement was that the people from Lesotho would pay them a certain amount. However, the problem occurred when the animals grazed on areas not assigned to them,” he said.

Langa said the farmers illegally impounded those animals. “It is alleged that those animals were stolen by the farmers and now the Lesotho people want them back. As police officials we are not liable for such agreements,” he said.

) At the time of going to print the SANDF could not be reached for comment

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