Cross-border cattle raiders meet their nemesis in Bees van Blerk

After losing 37 cattle at about R10 000 a head and 178 pregnant sheep, Bees goes sleepless for nights on end to scare off rustlers when motion sensors on his cattle are set off – sometimes three times a night. He also does not hesitate to shoot cattle smuggled across the border to mate with his bulls or cows. He says he has had no support from the police in 20 years – and implicates soldiers and cops in stock thefts. Meanwhile, even wealthy Basothos farming in the Free State are targeting by the stock thieves.

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Farmers on the border of Lesotho are having sleepless nights to protect their stock from cross-border raiders. 

One of those farmers is Bees van Blerk from Clarens.

He tells BizNews that:

  • There are cross-border raids from Lesotho at least two or three nights a month;
  • Farmers have to follow the spoor themselves and go across the border to try and get their own cattle back;
  • He has not been able to rely on support from the police for the past 20 years;
  • He once lost 37 cattle, which he never got back – at a loss of about R10 000 a head;
  • He stopped raising sheep after he lost 178 pregnant youths in one night; and
  • In just one area, from Clarens to Ficksburg, about 20 to 30 farms are lying vacant, some completely abandoned.

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Another costly problem is that Lesotho cattle are smuggled across the border to mount – or be mounted – by South African cattle, spreading disease in their wake.

That is when Bees pulls out the big guns: “Everybody knows that if I find any of their cattle among my cattle, I’ll shoot them. I shoot their cattle and they come and fetch their meat.  I’ve shot a lot of cattle, especially bulls. If I find a bull there because they carry other diseases, I’ll shoot them and I’ll leave them there. They come the next morning or during the night, and they come and fetch their meat.”

However, the cross-border cattles rustlers are not the only stock thieves targeting farmers in the area: “Well, I’ve caught the military guys. We’ve got military chaps. I don’t know what you call them. They call them soldiers. I don’t call them soldiers, but I’ve caught them herding my cattle already, and they couldn’t explain it…Yes, in uniform, and they couldn’t give me a reason what they were doing on the farm and among the cattle… there was a court case about it. The one guy said I assaulted him, which I think I did…And then, of course, the police…”

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Ironically, not even Basothos farming in the Free State are immune from stock theft. “I know the King and the Prime Minister personally…the Prime Minister has got a couple of farms… Lesotho’s got a couple of farms in the Free State. So, they’ve got the same problem…”

Meanwhile, Bees remains defiant: “I enjoy living here – and I’ll stay here. They’re not going to push me off…we’ve got to, as you say, take care of yourself. I’ve got dogs, I’ve got electric fences, and I’ve got alarm systems – and I’m very happy.”

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