African Crisis, October 1, 2007
Jaap de Villiers, the Afrikaner farmer who is constantly being threatened with death and harassed with violent land invasions from a neighbouring Zulu tribe, has given in and will sell up, says his situation has become so intolerable that he has reluctantly agreed to sell—but only at a fair price.
De Villiers’ farm is located near the Boer-era town of Vryheid—which means “Freedom”—named after the fact that this had been built enroute to the Boers’ establishment of the Transvaal republic.
“I can still take it (the terrorism) but I have to think of my wife and children,” Jaap de Villiers, 76, owner of the cattle farm Uitval said on Sunday. De Villiers, his wife Ester, 50, and their two sons, Jacob Paul, 13, and Jacob Hendrik, 9, live on the farm near Vryheid.
De Villiers’ farm is surrounded on three sides by tribal land. King Bheki Zulu bought the other two farms from commercial farmers many years ago.
The Afrikaner said nobody had ever told him that 147 Zulu families had just recently filed a claim on a small section of his farm under the Land Reform Act. The claim was yet to be processed by the Department of Land Affairs but the tribesmen have showed up there repeatedly with aggressive behaviour, demanding that he vacate the farm at once.
De Villiers was not aware of the land claim at all and only heard it from the news media—the Department of Land Affairs had never bothered to tell him about it. “They damaged my water pipes last week. They’re trapping my cattle in snares. They start veld fires. I can take it, but if I’m no longer around, (i.e. if I am murdered) my family will suffer.”
“They’re trying to intimidate me so that I’ll just say ‘Take the land.’ But I can’t give up my whole life.
“I must replace my land. I must carry on farming. If I don’t get my fair price from the Department, I’m going to hang on. Then I’ll have to get armed guards to patrol the farm.”
A Land Affairs Department official had gone to the ‘protestors’ and ‘told them to stop threatening De Villiers,’ this report claims.
But De Villiers remained sceptical. “I carry my gun on my hip at all times. The future looks bleak.”
Agri SA’s land affairs spokesperson, Annelize Crosby, said the situation was “causing concern: “The Department of Land Claims must prioritise this claim and examine its validity very closely. “The answer is not to allow people to pressurise this farmer into selling his farm against his will.”
Crosby said this case illustrated the high level of frustration over the delays in settling land claims. “People are now beginning to act illegally and that creates chaos and conflict.”
Seven Afrikaner and white English-speaking farmers have already been murdered in this one province alone since the start of this year.