South Africa: Agri Securitas offers help to those affected by farm attacks

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South Africa: Agri Securitas offers help to those affected by farm attacks

As attacks against members of South Africa's farming community continue, the Agri Securitas Trust Fund is offering support to those affected and provides them with practical assistance. 

Black Monday protests in South Africa on Oct. 30

Farming organization AgriSA said that the country had been subjected to a "wave of farm attacks" after the peaceful Black Monday protests on Oct. 30, reminding the sector again of "how vulnerable we all are."

However, it said that Agri Securitas was the only organization of its kind offering a unique solution for members of organized agricultural structures who wish to apply for financial help to acquire resources to safeguard their rural communities.

The entity's chair Japie Grobler said there was an incredible demand for such assistance. 

"We cannot keep up. We help farmers and rural communities across the country to protect themselves. With the increase in farm attacks, rural communities must be able to catch criminals swiftly and effectively," he said.

He says it also helps the police if funding is provided to communities for more camera systems, booms, night vision equipment and drones, thus accelerating the entire process to catch a suspected criminal without delay.

“Installing cameras is the best way to close off certain areas and to serve as a deterrent, but specific night vision cameras, which can also photograph vehicle number plates and are linked to a central control room, are very expensive,” Grobler said.

“Communities must also budget for the tall poles which are implanted in concrete so that the cameras are not stolen.”

The latest applications approved by Agri Securitas’ board of trustees include eight farmer associations across the country that are responsible for safeguarding 1,000 farms, 10,000 hectares of land, hundreds of farm owners and more than 50,000 farm workers.

Bully Bothma, chair of the Bothaville District Agricultural Union in the Free State, says they are very grateful for the funding that Agri Securitas will provide to acquire a drone.

According to the representative, the drone is essential to track down suspected farm attackers because they can hide and disappear with great ease.

“This drone has heat sensor technology and can even detect the presence of a person at night, as well as foot print," Bothma said.

Uys van der Westhuijzen, chair of Agri Malmesbury in the Western Cape, says the advantage of Agri Securitas funding is that it is allocated to the community as a whole and not only to an individual.

“We are very grateful that our request for funding to purchase repeater stations has been approved,” says Van der Westhuijzen.

“After all, they say charity begins at home and all members of a community must help one another to ensure their safety. This funding relieves the financial burden of farmer associations and forces people to work together because the money is used for equipment that must be used by the community as a whole.”

He says repeater stations are urgently needed because communication is one of the most important principles of rural safety.

“With the repeater stations we can send messages to everyone in the community simultaneously during emergency situations," he said.

When you apply to Agri Securitas for funding, you must define your needs and submit crime figures to substantiate this, says Van der Westhuijzen. “This ensures that the funds are used for the right purposes or equipment and are distributed fairly.”

Sandy la Marque, CEO of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu), says the Boston and Underberg farmer associations that received funding for camera systems have been victims of crime and farm attacks in the past year.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support and for the value that this funding will add for communities. Kwanalu believes that farmers and farm communities must take ownership of their own safety. Agri Securitas makes this possible.”

Other communities that recently received funding are: The Hex Table Grape Producers’ Association and the Kouebokkeveld Agricultural Association in the Western Cape, the Tosca Farmers’ Association in North West and the TAU SA’s Potgietersrus District Agricultural Union.

The equipment these organizations want to purchase with the funding includes bullet-proof vests, repeaters, night vision equipment, camera systems and digital radios.

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