Talk of the Town - - Front Page - JON HOUZET

A GROUP of about 20 Chris­tian bik­ers trav­el­ling around South Africa to bring at­ten­tion to the scourge of farm mur­ders will be ar­riv­ing in Alexandria on Sun­day.

Pas­tor TJ Maré, from Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, said the group started their jour­ney around South Africa in his prov­ince with their first trip from June 9-11 last year, from which they got their name, the 911 Ride.

Since then, they have trav­elled through Lim­popo, North West and the Free State, vis­it­ing po­lice sta­tions to de­liver let­ters of ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the SAPS, meet with com­mu­nity mem­bers and farm­ers unions and raise aware­ness about farm mur­ders.

The group started their cur­rent trip in the North­ern Cape on April 2 and were headed to the Western Cape on Wed­nes­day and will en­ter the East­ern Cape by the week­end.

“We plan to visit 250 po­lice sta­tions on this trip and will have trav­elled 5200km,” Maré said.

“After the East­ern Cape, we will end in KwaZulu-Na­tal.”

They have met with sta­tion com­man­ders and even pro­vin­cial com­mis­sion­ers when pos­si­ble to de­liver their let­ters of ap­pre­ci­a­tion and ex­press their de­sire for safe com­mu­ni­ties.

They in­tend to col­lect sig­na­tures from each pro­vin­cial com­mis­sioner, to present along with a let­ter to the na­tional com­mis­sioner at the end of the trip.

“We have man­aged to meet with all pro­vin­cial com­mis­sion­ers, ex­cept in the Free State, where the pro­vin­cial com­mis­sioner said he wouldn’t meet with us and ac­cept our let­ter. It was heart-break­ing,” Maré said.

“But the con­verse was true in the North­ern Cape, where the pro­vin­cial com­mis­sioner was ac­tu­ally trav­el­ling with us. He had a po­lice es­cort rid­ing with us through the prov­ince.”

He said the core group was 18 rid­ers, but they had been joined by more rid­ers in each prov­ince for the du­ra­tion of their time in that prov­ince, and by the end of the trip, about 150 rid­ers would have taken part.

Maré, whose par­ents live in Can­non Rocks, said the group had a spe­cial mo­ti­va­tion to visit Alexandria due to the bru­tal mur­der of Ri­aan Scheep­ers in Novem­ber last year.

The start­ing point for the lo­cal leg of the trip is at Nanaga farm stall at 2pm on Sun­day, from where they will ride to­gether to the NGK Church in Alexandria.

Any lo­cal bik­ers who want to take part can con­tact Owen Smith on 083-652-4536 or Flip Maré on 082-555-5668. It is not a po­lit­i­cal ride, so no flags will be al­lowed.

“We aim to fin­ish this ad­vo­cacy ride within a year from when we first started. We aim to stop on the week­end of June 8 to 10,” Maré said.

“We have man­aged to meet with all pro­vin­cial com­mis­sion­ers ex­cept in the Free State, where the pro­vin­cial com­mis­sioner said he wouldn’t meet with us and ac­cept our let­ter. It was heart-break­ing”

MAN ON A MIS­SION: Pas­tor TJ Maré is lead­ing a group of Chris­tian bik­ers trav­el­ling through the coun­try to high­light the high rate of farm mur­ders. They will be in Alexandria on Sun­day

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