Snow tourists leave farmer cold

2009-07-17 08:24

Cape Town - Snow spotters in the Koue and Warm Bokkeveld might remember to pack a carrot for the snowman's nose, but leave their manners behind in Cape Town, said an aggravated farmer from Ceres.

"I don't understand these people," said Johan Geldenhuys, one of the farmers who have no option but to grin and bear it when snow fever hits. Some suburban motorists turn into 4X4 racing drivers and family men become fence cutters and diesel thieves.

"Our apple trees aren't carrying leaves at the moment, so they look like they're dead, so these guys simply use them as fire wood," said this Ceres farmer about the bad behaviour of some of the visitors to the "roof of the Boland" against the Matroosberg.

According to Geldenhuys, he had last year suffered damage to the amount of R21 000 due to snow spotters who cut fences or drove over them to get onto his snow-covered - and private - property next to the R46 outside Ceres.

Trying to steal diesel

"They just cut fences wherever they want, near my crops or where my cattle wander."

He said he had once caught a stranger red-handed at the diesel pump near his barn. "Then he became extremely stubborn and said he wouldn't make it to town (without the diesel)."

According to Shirley Wagener, tourism manager in the Ceres district, one of the steps which have already been taken to help keep snow spotters under control, is a set of rules which is published on their website.

It prohibits people from, for instance, throwing snow balls at passing cars.

"Over the past two days we've had 180 people here (at the tourism office) with snow enquiries and about 250 phone calls," Wagener said on Thursday. According to her they are aware of the damage suffered by the farmers in the district.

"We explain to people to go to the passes (especially the Theronsberg, Bo-Swaarmoed and Gydo passes) and peaks (at Matroosberg). But I would guess only about one in four stops at the office. The rest just follow the stream," said Wagener about why people ignore signs that indicate private property.