Game farmers and livestock owners in the Vryburg district of North West province say they are living in fear of their lives after receiving death threats.
They claim gangs of armed members of the Ganyesa Tribal Authority have been illegally hunting on private land. The volatile situation came to a head last week when more than 300 farmers met at the Tosca Farmers’ Association to discuss a way forward.
The matter stems from the “flagrant and criminal abuse” of hunting permits issued by the North West Chief Directorate of Biodiversity. No one has been arrested and no hunting permits have been cancelled.
“The situation is so volatile it will explode unless the culprits are prosecuted and sentenced,” said a farmers’ spokesman, who did not want to be named.
“The farmers have shown great restraint, but if the authorities fail to act immediately, there could be a shoot-out, with innocent people hurt,” he said.
The initial incidents were reported to North West nature conservation officials and police in May.
“There are at least four different charges and complaints opened around illegal hunting, trespassing intimidation, unlawful possession of unlicensed firearms, firing weapons from public roads, and property damage.
“The hunts are meant to take place only on Ganyesa tribal land. The permits are then meant to be cancelled. So why is the department reluctant to revoke the permits and charge the culprits?”
Mafu Nkosi, chief director of the North West environment department, in an e-mail response, said that comment should be sought from the department of rural, environmental and agricultural development. Colonel Kagiso Mate from the Vryburg SAPS could not shed any light on the details.
By: Simon Bloch