‘Confrontational and armed, threatening actions [from farmers] … could escalate to violence …’
– CEO of Agri Limpopo, Willem van Jaarsveld, urging farmers to work with the police in the event of the unlawful invasion of farmland
Farmers need to act within the law if they want to evict illegal occupiers from their land. This is according to Dr Jane Buys, a safety and risk analyst at Free State Agriculture.
Buys told Farmer’s Weekly that most land grabs in the Free State investigated by the association had occurred on municipal land and not on private agricultural land.
She cited only three incidents of illegal occupation on private agricultural land over the past four years.
Buys said that the South African Police Service (SAPS) had to be notified immediately in cases where land had been illegally occupied, as they needed to evaluate the situation.
“SAPS operates according to a national instruction on land occupation, which states that the station commander and provincial commissioner must immediately be informed. “When a large number of occupiers are involved, public order policing must be tasked to lend a hand. It is important that when a farmer [is absent from] his land for a period, he gives authority to a foreman or neighbour to act on his behalf. They can then contact a lawyer in case an eviction notice must be acquired,” Buys said.
The unlawful occupation of a person’s land was a criminal offence, and a case of trespassing needed to be opened immediately, Buys said. It was also imperative that the farmer whose land was being illegally occupied prevented the erection of any structures. Moreover, this farmer needed to take video footage of the land to document that no structures had been erected there originally. The footage had to be handed over to the SAPS.
The rural security strategy made provision for farmers to mobilise fellow farmers to assist them in such cases and to carry out a citizen’s arrest if necessary, Buys said.
Willem van Jaarsveld, CEO of Agri Limpopo, said no occupation of private farm land had occurred in Limpopo as the association proactively worked with SAPS.
“Confrontational and armed, threatening actions [from farmers] will lead to increased tension and could escalate to violence that cannot easily be controlled,” Van Jaarsveld warned. – Gerhard Uys
ABOVE: It is important for farmers to prevent the erection of any structures if their land is being unlawfully occupied.