Cape Town -
Armed men on horses are terrorising Atlantis farmers by raiding their properties.
A farm owner who did not want to be named for security reasons said her home had been invaded twice a week since the beginning of the year.
She said the horsemen sometimes raided twice a day, during the day and at night.
“They are violent and fearless, and they operate in groups. You hear them outside, discussing what to do and all you can do is wait for their next move,” she said.
The armed invaders have stolen part of her fence and gate, copper fittings and television sets.
“I’m tired now. I sleep in stages at night… it’s hard. I moved to the area because I love nature and the quietness of the country life. I don’t like guns but I need one now,” she said
The Cape Argus first reported on the woman’s plight on November 19, after her home was invaded three times in the space of 24 hours. She hired two private security guards for protection. One is standing trial for accidentally shooting and wounding the other in the neck during a break-in this month.
“I’m not scared any more. I’m angry and I’m ready to fight back. This is not how I should be living,” said the 47- year-old Belgian-born woman.
She has lived alone on the smallholding for seven years, and is now considering selling her farm.
“I’m struggling financially as I can’t keep repairing the fence and all the other things I have to replace. It’s getting out of hand. The police are trying their best but they don’t have enough resources to deal with the problem,” she said
The councillor for the area, Barbara Rass, said there were about 355 smallholdings in Atlantis. Whoever was behind “terrorising the community” was probably someone who had worked on the farms and knows them like the “palm of his hand”.
“They are very strategic, they know exactly who lives alone and what they have in their homes.
Rass said she had tried several times to get Western Cape MEC for community safety Dan Plato, and the Western Cape commissioner of police, General Arnold Lamour, to intervene.
“We need someone to intervene from the top. Our local police don’t have enough manpower to handle the situation,” she said.
Police spokesman Lieutenant- Colonel Andre Traut said he had requested a full investigation and would take steps once he had received a report.
Plato’s spokesman, Greg Wagner, said on Wednesday that the MEC had agreed to a meeting with Rass, which they would schedule soon.
Another resident, Gary Whitehead, who has lived on a smallholding for 53 years, said he had assisted his neighbours several times after their homes were broken into.