Farmers bring N3 to a crawl

2017-11-08 06:01
PHOTOS: Ian carbuttPietermartzburg farmers held up traffic for kilometres along the N3 from Umlaas Road to the Liberty Midlands Mall off-ramp and back in protest at farm murders.

PHOTOS: Ian carbuttPietermartzburg farmers held up traffic for kilometres along the N3 from Umlaas Road to the Liberty Midlands Mall off-ramp and back in protest at farm murders.

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PIETERMARITZBURG and Midlands farmers joined the nation-wide protest against farm murders and attacks on Monday, causing backlogs in traffic on the N3 highway of up to five kilometres.

Those involved in the protest said the aim was to unite against the murders of South African farmers and staff working on farms.

The day was labelled “Black Monday” in honour of all the farmers and farm staff who have been attacked and murdered in recent years.

Ashburton resident Kelwin Strange said something had to be done to end the violence. He said one of his relatives, Edwin Mapstone, was murdered in a farm attack earlier this year.

Mapstone (53) was stabbed and shot dead during an attack on his Thornville farm in February. His wife, Jean, suffered stab wounds but survived the attack.

Strange said he had also lost friends and acquaintances in farm murders over the years.

One farmer at the protest said he had seen the Winterton, Estcourt and Bergville farming community pull together early yesterday morning and decided the Pietermaritzburg community should do the same. “I am a farmer in Eston and we have had numerous murders of farmers and farm staff.

“Enough is enough,” he said.

The convoy of farmers, driving in their bakkies and some in smaller vehicles, drove at a snail’s pace up the N3 from Umlaas Road to the Liberty Midlands Mall off-ramp and back. Vehicles sported crosses, black flags, signs and messages, receiving hoots of support from the public caught in the gridlock.

Estcourt farmer Arnold Fortmann said people had come out in their numbers to support the protest from as early as 6am. “We had a very good turnout,” said Fortmann.

“We had around 174 vehicles show up, as well as tractors and harvesters. People were hooting at us and giving us the thumbs up. Traffic was backed up at least five to 10 km behind us.”

He said the protest was also aimed at creating an “unbreakable bond among the farming community throughout South Africa”.

He added that the farming community hoped the outcome of the protest would be an increase in support from police services as well as getting farmers involved in “farm watch and security programmes”.

AgriSA director Kobus Visser said that in the 2015-2016 financial year, as reported by police, there were 58 farm murders and 519 farm attacks.

He said during the 2016-2017 financial year there had been 74 murders and 638 farm attacks, showing an increase in farm murders by 27% and 22% for farm attacks.

He said AgriSA was concerned about the “brutality and viciousness” being used by attackers such as using electric drills to drill through their victims’ hands and knees or dripping hot plastic onto a victim to get them comply to various demands.

Visser said reports from KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union and Gauteng showed that a third of these attacks and murders were on black farmers and staff.

“This is not about race,” he said.

“The protest shows the solidarity between South Africans and their resentment of crime in the coun-try.”


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