cape town 03-12-12 Tacical team doing last minute preperations for today's farm workers strike. picture brenton geach

Cobus Coetzee

FARMERS have spent millions of rand in the past few weeks on security measures.

In Witzenberg district alone 350 farmers forked out R6 million since November 12 to protect farms around seven towns including Ceres, Prince Albert’s Hamlet, Wolseley and Tulbagh.

“It is to protect the stability of our communities and the survival of our industry,” said Agri Witzenberg chairman Ockie Geldenhuys.

He said around nine security companies operated around Ceres since the beginning of last month, when farmworkers started to protest in De Doorns.

In addition to normal security companies farmers in Ceres and De Doorns have employed specialist security services from TSU Protection Services.

TSU chief executive officer Chris Beukes said they focus on specialist services like riot control, armed escorts and tactical response.

The company has set up an operations unit in the Ceres valley to co-ordinate all the security companies in the area.

Up to date TSU used five helicopters and 60 security personnel a shift to protect farms around Ceres and De Doorns.

Most of its personnel are former special forces, ex-policemen and ex-soldiers.

Geldenhuys said the farmers have paid for the security out of their own pockets.

“We all pay according to the size of your farm,” he said.

“The bigger it is the more you will pay.”

Witzenberg farmers have employed TSU on a daily basis due to its steep fee.

Beukes didn’t want to say how much they ask per day.

TSU has assisted a steelworkers’ strike last year and major security events like VIP protection for the retail industry and security industry strikes.

Geldenhuys said they will keep security throughout the harvest season.

“We can’t say if or when we might downsize on security because it is like telling someone when you are taking down your burglar bars,” he said.

AgriSA also has a trust fund to assist farmers across the country with security when they might need it.

AgriSA head of rural safety Kobus Breytenbach said Agri Securitas was created to make farming communities more safe like employing more security guards, putting up security cameras or monitoring access to an area.

“We collect money with golf days and other donations. When the need arises farmers can apply for money from the fund,” he said.

Geldenhuys said they have not applied for any assistance from Agri Securitas.

He said no major incidents were recorded since Tuesday when workers started to protest again.

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