Sunday, 17 June 2007

Index & Foreword


Dr. Philip Du Toit

Published by Legacy Publications
Private Bag X 122
Centurion 0046

ISBN NO. 0-620-31684-5
First Published January 2004
(c) Legacy Publications 2004



Chapter 1 - The Letsitele Valley, Limpopo Province

Chapter 2 - Botshabelo - The Pride of Middelburg

Chapter 3 - Vryheid, KwaZulu/Natal

Chapter 4 - The Eastern Cape

Chapter 5 - Kranskop

Chapter 6 - The Dunns of KwaZulu/Natal

Chapter 7 - Levubu, Limpopo Province

Chapter 8 - Mpumalanga Province

Chapter 9 - The Limpopo Province

Chapter 10 - The Western Cape

Chapter 11 - The Northern Cape

Chapter 12 - The North West Province

Chapter 13 - The Province of Gauteng

Chapter 14 - Blydevooruitzicht No More

Chapter 15 - The Road to Poverty

Chapter 16 - Slaughter - The Farm Murder Plague

Chapter 17 - Conclusion



This book is dedicated to every commercial farmer in South Africa, without whose skill, determination and resilience none of us would survive.

A special thanks to loyal supporters who kept my spirit high – especially Andre du Plessis (Eastern Cape) and Johan Bezuidenhout (Limpopo)


THIS DAY, January 8, 2004

Stephen Hofstatter and Michael Schmidt

“Farmland Report Jolts Rand

JOHANNESBURG – The land issue took political center stage in South Africa yesterday as the rand weakened in reaction to reports of massive land claims as government officials scrambled to ally fears of possible farm invasions by the landless. The rand lost 39c against the dollar in intraday trading, retreating to R6,62 from R6,23 on Tuesday before recovering slightly to R6,59.

“It’s starting to have an impact on the market. You can see that the issue is becoming an increasing focus ahead of the April elections”, Callum Henderson, the Bank of America’s emerging markets analyst, told Reuters yesterday. Later this month President Thabo Mbeki is expected to sign an amendment to the restitution act into law that will allow land to be expropriated from farmers opposing claims government deems valid.

Reuters, 07 January, 2004

“Dispossessed want 20% of SA Farmland”

By Alistair Thomson

Families and communities evicted by the apartheid state are claiming 40 to 50 percent of commercial farmland in some provinces and around 20 percent nationally, the land claims chief said on Wednesday. Currency traders have cited foreign media reports that land restitution would be accelerated ahead of elections this year as a concern for foreign investors given the land grab in next-door Zimbabwe, which South Africa has vowed not to repeat. A new law that has focused attention on land issues will allow the government to expropriate land for restitution where negotiations on a “willing buyer, willing seller” basis fail.

The New York Times reported that in KwaZulu/Natal up to 70 percent of farmland was subject to land claims – a figure Chief Land Claims Commissioner Tozi Gwanya said was exaggerated. “The real figure is around 40 to 50 percent”, Gwanya told Reuters. He said 155 000 hectares of KwaZulu/Natal were due to be handed back to nine separate communities in February or March 2004 in one of the biggest transfers to date.



This book cried out to be written. Stories about the collapse of farms handed over to emerging farmers under the government’s land reform program have circulated for some time. But over the last two years, the desecration of some of South Africa’s productive farmland has increased to such an extent that land is being taken out of production at an alarming rate.

The ominous element in the picture is: where will it end? Now that the government has given itself powers to expropriate land at will, for whatever purpose, will the end of this destruction ever be in sight?

Concerned farmers are supporting the publication of this book. They see first hand every day the results of the government’s land restitution program. Occasionally one reads about these catastrophes in newspapers. Some television actuality programs feature farms which have been destroyed after a handover. But there appears to have been no concerted effort by anyone to actually investigate the outcome of these transactions, both for the benefit of the public which paid for the land, and in light of the broader problem of decreasing food production in the country.

In most cases, at least as far as newspapers are concerned, handovers are depicted with exuberance by reporters. Pictures of people toyi-toying after receiving title deeds to their ancestral land are complemented by gratuitous individual stories of people returning to “the land of their birth”. In many instances, this is not the case. In any event, why haven’t questions been asked one or two years down the line about what became of this joyous transfer? Some follow ups occur, but not many. And they are journalists’ probes, not government assessments.

This is not a scientific book in the sense that every single land claim transaction has been investigated. Indeed, we have just started. Perhaps this book should be called Volume One. There appear to be hundreds of examples of farm collapses after restitution. We didn’t have the resources to hire an army of researchers to search and account for every farm which has been lost to production, or has been turned into a squatter camp.

But we have garnered enough evidence, at least as a start, to realize that there is a very ominous and ultimately calamitous trend afoot in South Africa, the results of which could seriously undermine food production.

Our researchers were in some instances part time. But they were dedicated and had the advantage of knowing the South African agricultural sector well. Opening one door led to other doors, and a picture emerged which differed little from one end of South Africa to the other. There were no examples found where the conditions existing on the farm at the time of transfer had either been maintained or improved, without the help of outsiders. In some instances, those to whom the farm had belonged helped the new owners. Other examples revealed white managers brought in quietly after production started to wobble.

In many cases, the beneficiaries were left to their own devices. Some recipients really wanted to farm but received little or no assistance. In other situations, a committee representing “the tribe” simply took over the farm, awarding themselves large salaries while carrying on with their lives somewhere else. The workers “ran” the farm until something broke, then the rot set in. Operating capital simply disappeared on salaries, 4 x 4 vehicles and travel expenses, with workers eventually demonstrating in a nearby town for back salaries.

One researcher was shot at by an angry chief, while another was told he must make written application to visit a ailed land reform farm which, in reality, belongs to the taxpayers. He went anyway. There was nobody at the gate, and a detailed examination was made of the farm without anyone even asking who he was!

This is not a definitive history of who is ultimately entitled to what land in South Africa. There are dozens of academic sources where the origins of land ownership can be quoted, and counter-argued. This book is concerned about agricultural production in the last nation in Africa which is self-sufficient in food. We don’t want another Zimbabwe. If 35 000 commercial farmers produce enough food for the people of Southern Africa, why take their farms?

We discovered a number of outrageous land claims – some based on hearsay, others which overlapped as different tribal warlords fought for the same piece of turf. Some claims were simply lies, while others claimed ground for which they had already been compensated. The existence of graves was another reason for land claims.

An important heritage site has been claimed, not by people whose tribal forefathers lived on the ground, but by people whose forefathers were taken in by the missionaries who created the site, to escape warring tribal chiefs. Through the grace and charity of these missionaries, they were allowed to stay and their children were born at the mission. Now their descendants are claiming the heritage site!

Under what duress do South African farmers operate? They pay taxes for security, yet they conduct their own policing. Many operate in the most violent environment - outside of a war - in the world.

We examine how land claims have affected operating farmers, why they can’t sell, or obtain a bank loan. Many have been driven off their farms by invaders and intimidation. They have turned the key on a lifetime of work. Others have been threatened with death. More than 1 500 have been brutally murdered since 1994, in many instances without anything being stolen.

Stock and crop theft are endemic. Aged farmers sit out all night against a tree, shotgun cocked, to catch the corn thieves. Others go into dangerous locations to find their stolen stock because police assistance is simply not available. Farmers pay handsomely for private security, but those supposed to be guarding their property are themselves intimidated and flee..

South Africa can do without its advertising agencies and retail boutiques and horse racing, but it cannot do without its farmers. If matters continue as they are, and productive farms are handed over to people who cannot farm and who do not want to farm, then we are on the Zimbabwe slippery slope. South African farmers are taxed to the hilt. They have high input costs, and they receive very little in the way of relief from the government. They are harassed by human rights investigators, and they are the subject of vicious propaganda.

In a covert way, it appears the SA government has come to realize that handing over a farm to subsistence farmers is a failure, but they are slow to admit this. Instead, they quietly bring in managers and consultants who rectify – if possible – the damage done, and the patched-up project is again given to the same beneficiaries. A further stratagem is to bring in “mentors” who assist black farmers on a daily basis, checking everything and in effect running the farm. There is also the new lease-back policy. But there are inherent problems with these policies. Why not let those who can farm continue to produce the food to feed the millions in Southern Africa?

There are many black farmers who have made a success of ventures, and they are lauded for their hard work, and for the risks they have taken. Neighbouring white farmers are only too happy to assist. But some black farmers obtained loans from the Land Bank, then used their newly-acquired farms as taxi repair depots.

There are alarming signs that no commercial farm is safe in South Africa. At one meeting between land claimants and commercial farmers, the claimants told the farmers “Just give us your title deeds. Then you can work for us”. What is really sought by many claimants is a productive farm which someone else will run so that a large salary and profits can be taken from the operation without too much effort.

Some farmers could not talk to us for fear of reprisals. One farmer was scared to death. His farm is next to a huge squatter camp. He told us he had to keep quiet “so I can at least get something for my farm from the Department of Land Affairs”. His farm contains a R1 million dairy operation, but nobody wants to buy his farm. He is trying to get whatever price he can from the government. It is too dangerous for him to stay on the property. He has already moved his family to town, and appointed a manager.

In one area of KwaZulu Natal, the farming community has been reduced from 56 to 14. In another part of the province, trenches have been dug to stop stock theft. Cruelty to farm animals turns one’s stomach. Some farmers have to resort to witchcraft to find their cattle. Farmer Piet de Jager of Levubu told an agricultural magazine he wouldn’t give up his farm. He’d worked for the farm all his life, he was 69, and “what will I do with my life without my farm?” Two weeks after the published interview, he was shot to death in his garden, a few metres from his house, his wife and his grandchildren. Nothing was stolen.

This book is not the beginning. The story started many years ago. I grew up on a cattle ranch on the border of Botswana and South Africa. When my father’s farm was expropriated by the old National Party government under the homelands scheme, he died of a stroke. I submitted a claim for the return of this farm in November 1998 but have heard nothing from the government. To date, more than 900 land claims have been submitted to the government by whites and Indians, people whose farms were taken by the previous government.

By highlighting in a small way the heritage which the white farming sector brought to South Africa, we in no way wish to ignore the many black, coloured and Indian farmers who have also struggled, who are also beset with stock and crop theft, intimidation and, at times, assaults. Few acknowledge the contribution to this country of its small band of commercial farmers of all races, and we believe it’s time to tell their story. And why not? Everybody else’s story has been told!

Cry the beloved country indeed! If many blacks cannot make it as commercial farmers, it is well to remember that most whites are not farmers either. Farming is a highly specialized, risky business. One simply cannot “resign” from farming and get another job. It is a holistic profession, and the land is an emotive element in the equation.

Most of us are “landless”, in the literal sense of the word. The 12% of arable land in this country is very fragile. South Africa is not a farming friendly country. Productive farmland has been built up over many years and must not be destroyed with impunity. We believe jobs, not land, are what people want. They need a roof over their head, and education for their children. Destroying good farms is a lose-lose situation, for all of us.

This book is a joint effort between myself and our team of researchers. It will be sent all over the world. South Africans should read it with concern. They take so much for granted - the full supermarkets, the mountains of fruit and vegetables, the steaks, the chops, the boerewors (literally, the ‘Boer sausage’ - the staple sausage in South Africa.) All of this comes from less than .01% of our population – 35 000 farmers who provide for South Africa’s 45 million people. South Africans must resist the senseless transfer of land for ideological reasons.

Dr. Philip du Toit, South Africa, 25 December 2003.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks a million for posting this book. I would like to know if it would be possible for you to create a single pdf file with the entire book and post it here for download purposes.

Alternatively, could any reader create a single file and publish it on the Internet.

Thank you.