Free State farmer Maleho Kodisang is still reeling from shock after a mob brutally attacked five of his farmworkers. They took off with two brand-new tractors, four cell phones and expensive farm equipment, including pressure pumps.
In an exclusive interview with Food For Mzansi, a distraught Kodisang says, “My workers and I are still very traumatised. I haven’t been able to do anything on the farm since it happened. It’s like they can come back anytime and attack me.”
The attack on Friday evening is the second to rock the Free State in January 2021.
Earlier, Simon Makhotha (77), was tortured for hours on his farm in Zastron. This is about 140km from Kodisang’s farm in Thaba ‘Nchu.
Kodisang, who is also the chairperson of AFASA in the Mangaung Metro, says the attackers cleaned up his Milton farm.
Among the stolen items are a brand-new Landini Landforce 125 of about a million rand, as well as a 2020-model tractor, generators and welding machines.
“I’m really afraid for my life and for my family’s life,” says Kodisang.
The attackers first approached him a week prior to the incident under the false pretence of wanting to buy 50 grass bales from him valued at R17 500.
At around 20:00 on Friday, 29 January, Kodisang received a call from the suspects requesting a meeting at his farm.
Farmworkers stripped naked
“They wanted to bring the money in cash. I told them that I was in Bloemfontein and could not come, so they should rather deposit the money the next morning. That’s when they started to attack my workers,” he says.
Kodisang’s farmworkers were brutalised by the attackers.
First, they were forced to drink an alcoholic substance unknown to them, and then an elderly couple were forced to take off all their clothes.
One of the workers tried to fight back, but was quickly silenced with the draw of a gun.
“They asked him if he wanted to die over things that were not even his.”
While the investigation is still ongoing, Food For Mzansi understands that the police have since recovered the two stolen tractors.
Free State MEC for agriculture and rural development, William Bulwane, was shocked to hear about the attack on the Milton farm. He visited the traumatised, close-knit group on the farm yesterday.
“The farming community are working hard to ensure that food is on tables, and they ought to be protected by both government and community members,” he says.
Besides the farm attacks plaguing the province, Bulwane also condemns frequent livestock theft. He urges farmers to work together to reinforce a rural patrol system by establishing a task team with their neighbours.
Less talk, more action
“We don’t need more, or any new plans to curb rural crime – just implement the rural safety strategy that was launched in 2019,” says Uys van der Westhuijzen, chairperson of Agri SA’s centre of excellence: rural safety.
In a strong-worded statement released earlier today, Agri SA called on the police to urgently implement the rural safety strategy.
The agricultural organisation believes it could prevent most rural crime, including farm attacks and murders.
Van der Westhuijzen says farm attacks have a devastating impact on farming communities, as well as on human rights where citizens of this country have the right to be free of all forms of violence.
“This is something the agricultural community has not experienced over the past few years.”