In South Africa, being a farmer is more than twice as dangerous as being a police officer, and a farmer or farmworker is almost four times more likely to be murdered than the average South African.
Henk Boshoff, who lives on a farm near Standerton, Mpumalanga, and his partner Mark Wilson, who works from the Strand in the Western Cape, are partners in a security company, Community Assets Tactical Security (CATS).
They advise farmers on how to approach farm and community security, and put them in contact with those who can implement security infrastructure at the best prices.
The area in which Henk lives was known for high crime rates, but after the community organised itself, this rate dropped drastically.
“Farmers and farming communities are soft targets. They must become hard targets. To achieve this, the entire community must be involved,” he stresses.
A criminal’s primary advantage is the element of surprise, and this needs to be taken away. To achieve this, Henk suggests creating circles of defence that extend from the farmhouse to the community.
The house, yard, farm, neighbours, community and communication structures such as radios and WhatsApp groups all have to be considered and systematically addressed.
Make the home your first priority, stresses Henk; 70% of farm attacks take place here. If you cannot secure the entire house, at least secure the sleeping quarters.
Kobus Visser of the Agri SA policy committee on rural safety agrees. A sturdy security gate that separates the living area from bedrooms is a must, he says. Criminals often break in at a point far away from the bedroom area, and a security gate will give you time to protect yourself or activate a panic button.
Keep a small dog inside the house to act as an alarm, suggests Henk, and keep your larger dogs indoors at night or if you go out. Dogs that are kept outside can easily be poisoned. If this happens, a farm attack is likely to be imminent.
The next ‘circle’ is perimeter security. Install movement-activated lights that shine outwards from the house. “If you hear something outside, keep lights inside switched off, as you can then see movement outside, but someone outside can’t see inside,” explains Henk.
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