Every day a group of men in Fouriesburg in the Free State walks along the Caledon River and looks out over the magnificent mountains of Lesotho. But it’s not a trip to soak up the splendor of the mountain kingdom – they are there to protect yourself from crime.
Preventing cattle theft is their primary goal, but so are they. The Hawks stabbed the area earlier this month and arrested farm owner Modiehi Mofokeng, 38 appeared on Monday last week shortly before the district court of Fouriesburg because she had allegedly set up a “toll station” on her farm so that vehicle thieves and illegal immigrants could cross the border for a fee.
TimesLIVE visited the area to speak to people first hand to understand why they want to come to SA, to measure and see farmers’ losses who is profiting from the illegal activities.
“Inventory theft is a high priority crime in our region,” said Riaan Corbett of the Farmers Union.
“The border is not far away. If they steal, they cross the river to Lesotho. It will take you a long time to get them back. A couple of cows can be a lot of money. “
First, the Farmers Union in Fouriesburg installed cameras and patrolled the area to combat cattle theft.
Corbett When he was a farmer, they are Daily patrols have become a lifestyle because they live next to the border.
When asked what he knew about the movement of undocumented immigrants, he said that they mainly cross the border for food and employment in SA .
“You are hungry. It has been very dry in Lesotho for the past three years. Harvest and inventory theft increased in the area. Most of the people who come by come to buy food and go back, although some are criminals.
“Last week they stole five cattle and slaughtered them, not to sell but to eat” said Corbett, adding that he did. Also, has been a victim of stock theft a couple of times.
He said one of the reasons for the influx of immigrants crossing the border illegally is that they would have to produce a negative Covid -19 report at the port of entry.
“Not everyone has the money to pay for the test. There aren’t enough soldiers at the border to control the movement. When they see the army or patrol vehicles, they take the gap and cross the river. The roads are bad so you can’t drive fast to respond to an incident, and there’s no fence either, ”said Corbett.
It’s a cool Monday in the Butha Buthe area, as Nthabiseng Makoae and others. Take a nearly two-hour walk to the tarred road with a young child.
“We crossed the Caledon River to get to the main road and find transportation. It’s usually a two-and-a-half hour walk.
“To save on travel expenses, we go up to two hours to the street and bring taxis into town or wherever we need to. When we hitchhike, the drivers ask for R150, which we don’t have, ”she said.
Makoae said they are sometimes intimidated by the patrolmen on their trip.
They People came to SA mainly for food and jobs.
However, she added, “It is common knowledge that people engage in illegal activities between borders. Some use illegal means of transport to smuggle people or cars into or out of Lesotho. “
A man who asked not to be named for his safety said he was one of the people who hitchhiked on a daily basis.
“If we find them on the side of the road, we’ll give them elevators and ask how much they have. W negotiate prices. Even if we don’t pick them up, people will find a way to get to this site. That way I can make money, ”he said.
He refused to comment on the illegal crossing of stocks and vehicles.
Corbett said, according to information from Lesotho, orders were being made made for certain vehicles and “then they go to steal a vehicle and take it to Lesotho”.
“Sometimes they remove or sell it for replacement parts [parts]. They [buyers] pay in between R10,000 and R30,000.
“The vehicles arrive early in the morning on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. We also have odd times, maybe a Monday or Tuesday.”
He said Toyota, Ford and VW vehicles are popular.
“They come from all over the country, not specific areas. The number of cars that pass here ranges from one to two per depending on demand Day. “