‘Con­fronta­tional and armed, threat­en­ing ac­tions [from farm­ers] … could es­ca­late to vi­o­lence …’

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Weekly News Wrap -

– 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

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ABOVE: It is im­por­tant for farm­ers to pre­vent the erec­tion of any struc­tures if their land is be­ing un­law­fully oc­cu­pied.

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