Farmers to arm themselves against crime

* Farmer Brian Joffin walking on a piece of farm land in Philippi.

Keith Blake, Ottery

I grew up in the Ottery/ Phillippi area on my late dad’s smallholding.

I also had family staying on smallholdings and I also know a few farmers who make a living by supplying us with food and one realises that any farm is a bread basket of the community.

Any attack on the farmer, their families and their workers must be regarded as high treason as our very basic food security is threatened and it will have serious consequences for our very survival.

In the last couple of days, I have spoken to a farmer and he outlined the problems they are having in regard to crime.

I sat actually open-mouthed to hear how syndicates come and steal their crops in bakkie loads and their livestock; how openly construction companies dump rubble and dirt on fertile soil; how leniently the justice system deals with these perpetrators.

It sounded like the courts take a compassionate stance on those stealing crops as it is a social hunger issue but those crops are the product that brings in the money to carry on farming, and to pay the workers.

The most serious concern is the deadly attacks on the farmers and their workers and I, as a retired crime prevention officer, want to make proposals.

Whether these are accepted or implemented is for the farmer, the law enforcement agencies, the ward councillors and the justice sys-
tem to harvest or to ignore.

* Farmers have to do a threat analysis of their farms in relation to environmental design. Is the farm hidden by bushes and trees from the main road? This gives cover to criminals. Is there sufficient lighting in the roads in the farm area.

* Is there a siren on each farmhouse that when set off will scare off any attack or warn others in the area that help is needed.

* Are there sufficient trained guard dogs on the farms that will attack on command and here I think of the Belgian Mallinois. The farmer and some of their workers must have these trained dogs. There must be signs placed boldly that the farm is guarded, in different languages, at the farm entrance and other strategic visible places.

* The farmer, their family and their workers must receive high quality self-defence training, using their bare hands or other items like a pipe, a pole, a knife.

* Each farmer, their families and workers must receive extensive training in firearm shooting, firearm storage or firearm concealment to surprise would-be attackers.The wearing of bullet-proof vests must be a top priority.

* Each farmer must be trained to use their vehicles, whether a truck, bakkie, car, tractor or scooter or motorbike in defence and counter attack mode for self de-

* Each farmer and worker must have a flare gun as a night time backup to light up their property and at the same time alert neighbours that there are problems. Also obtain stun grenades legally and smoke grenades.

* Farmers must have a meeting with their ward councillors to investigate lighting on the roads in the farming areas.

* Farmers and law enforcement agencies must approach their justice officials and request that harsher sentences be implemented for crimes in farm-related issues.

* Farmers and law enforcement agencies have to discuss on a regular basis, crime prevention patrols, an effective dedicated farm watch system, access control ideas to farm property and more than one effective communication system between farmers themselves and law enforcement agencies.

* Every day the farmer has to hold a security and safety briefing with their family and their workers and discuss their planned strategies so it is not forgotten.

* Every section of our communities have crimes committed against them and we must know that in crime we are victims and we are all equal but yet we are unique in the form of crime committed against us and the police cannot be everywhere. We have to almost become mini James Bonds in our thinking of how to become a crime-preventer no matter where we stay or who we are.