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Rampant crime along SA, Lesotho border takes its toll on farmers

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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FARMERS along South Africa’s border with Lesotho are falling prey to rampant crime, farmer organisation, Free State Agriculture (FSA) has said

FSA safety risk analyst, Jane Buys, told the Farmer’s Weekly magazine this week that it was becoming almost impossible for farmers in Zastron, Klaarwater, Boesmankop and Spring Valley areas in the southern Free State to continue farming due to rampant stock theft.

They were also facing theft of infrastructure and violent crimes such as farm attacks and murder.

Dr Buys said the region was being hit hard by criminals from across the border because of, among other reasons, lack of traversable roads and cell phone services.

Even members of the South African Defence Force deployed along the border were finding it difficult to carry out patrols because of poor roads.

“For example, the destruction of the 18km stretch of road between Klaarwater and Spring Valley has created an open gateway for criminals to cross and recross the border as they wish,” Dr Buys said.

Spring Valley has been known as an illegal crossing point for years, she said.

Some land reform beneficiaries along the border had even sold their farms after finding it impossible to continue farming under such circumstances. Dr Buys said criminals from Lesotho were behind this.

Efforts by FSA to get the impassable roads along the border rebuilt by the SA Department of Public Works had been unsuccessful.

Even efforts by Agri SA to address the matter at national level had also been fruitless, she said.

Impassable roads were evident in most of the 13 local municipalities in the border region and this was resulting in “far above average incidences of stock theft”.

“We nonetheless remain committed to solving the problem and will renew our efforts to get government to address the matter, even if it means taking our plight to the Office of the President.

“The roads are in such a bad state that they have become untraversable even by four-track vehicles,” Dr Buys said.

Friedl von Maltitz, a farmer near Ficksburg, said the situation in his district did not differ much from Zastron.

He said the theft of sheep and cattle had increased significantly since the ban on the transportation of cloven-hooved cattle was lifted, following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the Free State. –Farmer’s Weekly