South Africa: Landgrabs and Scorched Earth

A reader sent a link to this article about an example of landgrabbing occurring in South Africa, from the Platinum Weekly Newspaper – The Scorched Earth Policy of Landgrabbing.

In Northam, a group of approximately 30 men and women who don’t want to wait their turn, decided to lay claim to a farm in Koedoesdoorn, about 1 kilometre outside of Northam on Sunday 5 August. They planted their flags and demarcated the land they wanted. They also set fire to the surrounds.

Soon the fire engulfed everything in its path. The wicked August winds helped the fire, which was more than two stories high at some places to jump the fence to two neighbouring farms, farm Meerkat and portion 17 of farm De Put. Water pipes and electric cables leading to these farms were destroyed in the process.

The community who immediately came to help fight the fire, were stunned to find illegal landgrabbers on the piece of land. They were met with mockery and sarcasm. Some of the landgrabbers went out of their way to provoke community members, cursing, shouting and showing signs as they were trying to prevent a catastrophy.

Having a lot to deal with, the community members did not have time to respond to the landgrabbers. They just did what they came to do… trying to stop the fire from spreading. They were able to save two farm houses from burning to the ground.

However, the game and other farm animals on the three farms were not so fortunate. Over 500 hectares were laid to waste leaving a gloomy picture of dead animals among the ashes. Most of the burnt animal carcasses were found at the edges of the high game fences where they unsuccessfully tried to escape.

The few animals that somehow managed to live through this fiery ordeal are now left without any food or water. The water of all the different small natural dams dried up and the farmers would now have to cart water and fodder to the few surviving animals.

Seven suspects were arrested by the police, led by lieutenant colonel Ngoepe.
South African farmers face a dark, depressing and uncertain future.

Click here to read the whole story at Platinum Weekly.