Farmers, govt settle case

2010-06-18 16:25

Bloemfontein - Free State farmers' three-year court case against the government over the lack of security along the Lesotho border has been settled out of court, Free State Agriculture said on Friday.

Free State Agriculture manager Henk Vermeulen said the agreement was made an order of the court by the Free State High Court on Thursday.

"The state's inability to execute law and order along the Lesotho borderline was given a final blow with the agreement," he said.

Vermeulen said the agreement was reasonable and a victory for all South Africans, specifically the farmers along the border.

He said the most important aspect was that a partnership was created with the government to solve the borderline issue to the benefit of all involved.

Liaison committees

In terms of the agreement, the whole Free State-Lesotho border road would be rebuilt and the border fence replaced at a cost of R5.5m. The 130 police officials working along the border would be strengthened with the addition of two platoons of 75 each.

The state had also made available more surveillance equipment to monitor the borderline. Sixteen vehicles, including seven four-wheel-drive vehicles, had been bought and would be available by July.

Another aspects flowing from the agreement would be the establishment of cross border liaison committees for "sustainable and good neighbour relations" with the Lesotho government and its citizens along the border.

Vermeulen said Free State Agriculture hoped the lives of farmers on the border would systematically start normalising.

"We do realise that the agreement is the start of a process and that hard work is still ahead."

The initial court case was brought against, among others, South African President Jacob Zuma, Free State Premier Ace Magashule and various provincial and national state departments.

Free State Agriculture also expressed its appreciation to the presidency for the "reasonable agreement" reached between the two parties.