Free State farmers have, again, called on government to prioritise the rehabilitation of a 20-kilometre road near the southern Lesotho border area. This, they say, will go a long way in clamping down on crime that affects the safety of farmers, workers and their families.
Yesterday, Free State Agriculture (FSA) met with both small-scale and commercial farmers who are being targeted by cross border criminality. Also present were members of the police, the army and Border Management Authority (BMA).
Jakkals le Roux, chairperson of FSA’s rural safety committee, says they have made several requests regarding the dilapidated road to government and MECs of roads, transport and police in the past three to four years. The road needs to be passable for law enforcement officials to provide the necessary border protection and also launch preventive operations.
“This has by no means materialised, and the activities of the department of public works to erect a border road and fence have by no means gotten off the ground,” says Le Roux.
Farmers in the Klaarwater, Spring Valley and Boesmanskop areas along the southern Lesotho border are “beyond despondent” as this area has become a transit route for suspected stolen goods and especially livestock to Lesotho.
The impassable border road on which operations and patrols by the army, police, BMA and farmers must take place cannot materialise.
“We want to highlight the plight of these forgotten communities and the failure of the government’s constitutional obligation towards rural areas and farming communities,” says le Roux.
A University of the Free State researcher, Willem Lombard, earlier found that the total annual cost of livestock theft in the Free State was estimated at nearly R183 million. His research also concluded that farmers near the Lesotho border experience stock theft on a more regular basis than the rest of the province.