“#DON’T kill the hand that feeds you“.
That’s the plea from more than 300 KwaZulu-Natal farmers and workers, who joined the national Black Monday campaign, in protest against farm attacks.
Combine harvesters, tractors and bakkies – brandishing signs like “Don’t kill the hand that feed you“ and “stop farm murders” – caused a traffic snarl along the N3 near Bergville and Estcourt in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands on Monday morning as farmers drove home their stance on farm attacks in the country.
The farmers from mainly Bergville, Estcourt, Himeville, Colenso and Ladysmith, dressed in shorts and black shirts drove in a convoy along the R74 and onto the N3 toward Johannesburg as part the nationwide protest.
Arnold Fortmann, who is part of the security portfolio of the Escourt Farmers Association, said their mission was “to create awareness and stand against the murdering of innocent farmers and farm dwellers in South Africa.
“We want to increase support from the security services, namely the police, in protecting farming communities.
“We also want to galvanise farmers into getting involved in farm watch and security programmes. We have to secure a safe future for all farmers and farm dwellers in the country.”
Fortmann said farm attacks in the province were sporadic and regular.
“The most recent that I am aware of was six weeks ago in the central Drakensberg area where a farmer was shot in the back but survived.
“He was lured out during the early hours of the morning by men who were pretending to seek work. The one opened fire on him and he returned fire, killing his attacker in the process.
“He just got out of hospital,” he said.
Fortmann said the attacks were not all concentrated in the same area.
“I know a few months ago there were quite a few attacks in the Kokstad/Himeville area. Prior to that it was in northern KwaZulu-Natal. It does happen on a regular basis.
“It’s a huge concern and a big factor in our lives. We having to constantly look over our shoulders. We constantly think about things and scenarios and situations. It does tire you and makes you paranoid.
“We do have our own private security services and farm watch. But it takes the nearest guy about 15 minutes to get to you. The quickest response is your neighbour in the event of an attack.”
Fortmann said farmers were hoping for more police support in trying to eradicate crime in their areas.
SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER and YASANTHA NAIDOO