Letter: State must help Hertzogville farmers who lost everything in ravaging fires
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By Dr Theo De Jager
The hearts of South African Agri Initiative (Saai) and its members across South Africa go out to the farmers in the Hertzogville area who lost livestock, pastures, fences and other infrastructure in the destructive fires that raged in the area between Christiana, Hoopstad, Dealesville and Bultfontein.
Although the losses are still to be determined, damages have reached disastrous proportions.
Several hundred cattle, sheep and game were burnt to death or so badly mutilated they had to be put down.
Saai hopes and pressures the government into providing disaster relief, but the government has a poor track record of discrimination, fraud and nepotism in terms of disaster relief.
Saai will work together with as many network partners as possible to organise farmer-to-farmer assistance and support families in order to help them stay on their farms.
There are alarming reports that the fires started as a result of burning tyres during service delivery protests on the R708 road between Hertzogville and Christiana.
The SAPS faces a major challenge in Hertzogville to investigate and prosecute, to the same extent as with the Senekal charges, for the sake of trust and legitimacy. If the legal process is not perceived to enforce responsibility and accountability, the integrity and stability of the whole polity will be undermined.
Farmers from elsewhere in the country who can provide support in the form of fodder or other resources, or sympathisers who want to contribute to the transportation of fodder to the disaster area, can contact Saai at 066 071 6094.
Relief will be provided to farmers, in co-operation with all interested and willing organisations in a non-discriminating, transparent manner, regardless of the farmers’ affiliations, membership, race, political preferences, church or language group. Anyone who knows of serious need in the area can bring it to Saai’s attention.
Dr Theo De Jager is from the South African Agri Initiative chairperson.