This post is also available in: Afrikaans
Farm murders have become an almost common occurrence in South Africa making it imperative for the farmer to pay serious attention to safety and security. Free State Agriculture says most farm attacks in the province occur over weekends.
According to Wynand Coetzer of the firm The Farm Firearm and Tactical Training, the most important aspect for a farmer should be to ensure he is safe on his farm at all times – he need not necessarily have the best gun or be the strongest guy on the block.
“Security begins with preparedness (alarms, dogs, weapons, fences, etc., which cover the readiness aspect). The level of all this is, of course, determined by your budget as everything has a cost implication. However, being prepared begins with attention. If a farmer does not pay attention to what goes on around his farm, no dog, alarm or firearm will help him/her,” says Wynand.
“It is an unwelcome fact that we have to be ready 24/7/365. Attacks take place when it is least expected by the farmer”.
He adds that vigilance means a farmer has to be prepared when his alarm is activated; when his dog(s) warn him; when a fence alarm is not working suddenly; foreign sounds like doors or windows being opened or something falling. Any of this should immediately trigger the farmer’s security protocol.
What to do first: “Warn your spouse and the rest of your household of the danger; make sure everyone knows what to do and to meet at a pre-determined location in the house immediately.
“Should anyone in the house be watching TV, play TV games or listen to music – switch it off immediately so that you can hear and the rest of the household also hear what they are told to do,” says Wynand.
A safe room in the house should be part of the security protocol and the following should be in the safe room:
• First aid kit;
• Communication apparatus such as an extra cellphone, or a specific separate emergency cellphone of which the number should also be on the cellphones of your neighbours/friends/security cell coded briefly “Wynand emergency”, or a walkie-talkie operating on a security cell basis; and
• A strong security gate or steel-clad door separating the safe area from the rest of the house.
All people not known to the farmer should be regarded as potential attackers. As soon as the farmer becomes aware of people on her/his farm who may present danger to him and the household, he should take the following steps:
• Don’t walk towards the person to ask if you could help. Keep your distance because distance buys reaction time;
• Do not open the door for an unknown person. Rather limit access by i.e. locking doors; and
• Remember that the security protocol of every home will differ and reaction plans will probably follow suit.
“Security lighting shining away from the homestead is vitally important as it makes it possible to see what the criminals are doing impedes their night vision and make it impossible for them to see inside the house. Their cover to operate is darkness. Make sure you have a tamper-proof power source for the security lighting and an independent source inside the safe area that will keep the outside lights on. Ensure all lighting in the house is off. The moment light foils criminals to operate, their plans fall flat,” says Wynand.
“A further advantage of a decent light system and independent inside source is that the criminal will first attempt to sabotage the lights. Carry a distance control with you to activate the lighting from a distance when you reach your home after dark. Should it not work, and there is no load shedding, you know there is danger. Get away fast to a safe environment such as a neighbouring homestead or the nearest police post. Rather be safe than sorry.”
Farmers should ensure they are on a friendly footing with their neighbours because that is where the quickest assistance might come from. Communication with neighbours is imperative. “So, bury the hatchet. It is not necessary to visit daily but we owe it to each other to ‘be my brother’s guardian’, especially in times of need, an emergency or attack.
“Read Proverbs 27:10: ‘Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father, and do not go to your brother’s house when disaster strikes you – better a neighbour nearby than a brother far away.’ (NIV Holy Bible). Your nearby neighbour is worth more than the far away brother,” says Wynand.
“And remember: You first have to fight the battle and stay alive so that you can reach your radio, emergency phone, your family and safe room. YOU have to stay alive to protect your household. I think a firearm (pistol or revolver) is the easiest and most effective way of self-defence in case of a farm attack.”
“We have to combat terror attacks on farms. It is clearly not ordinary plunder or murder such as seen by the Government. Behaviour patterns and the form of the violence is 100% in keeping with terrorism and that is why a hand weapon may help you.”
You should know the following about a firearm:
a) How to use it and proficiency in defensive use. Unluckily basic weapon handling proficiency is not enough.
b) A weapon must be at hand; if not, it is useless.
c) The user must be willing to use it to shoot and kill an attacker.
Basic requirements for the use of lethal violence:
a) There must be an unlawful attack aimed at you or a third party that you are trying to protect.
b) The attack must be aimed at a person. Life has to be threatened – not property.
c) The attack must be an immediate threat or already under way.
“Farmers should regularly do range practice with their weapons. Weapon proficiency deteriorates without regular target practice. Shooting and killing a puff-adder now and then is not enough. The puff-adder (farm attack criminal) gives no warning ‘puff’ and probably carries his own firearm,” says Wynand.
Training in self-defence is a must for farmers and their spouses to attain an advanced proficiency level. They should also know when they may shoot someone and when to refrain.
“Many people think they will be able to shoot an intruder but this is not true. Most people value life too high and do not want to harm others. It is necessary to be trained to control that human instinct and to be able to act in time, fast enough and with the necessary violence to protect yourself or your household.” If you are proficient already, Wynand recommends that you fire between 200 and 400 practice rounds with your firearm every two months to retain proficiency.
Many think that elderly people should not be living in farms any longer as criminals concentrate on ‘easy’ targets, but Wynand says it is an injustice to have one’s life changed because you are elderly. “If you still enjoy fair health and mobility there is no reason to leave the farm.”
The biggest danger facing the elderly is that they do not keep tread with crime statistics. In the era they come from, everything still functioned as it should – ESKOM, the commando system, military and other institutions.
“The dynamics of crime dramatically change every 5 to 10 years concomitant with changes in certain accepted systems. Some of the elderly are loathe to accept that they are targeted because nothing has happened to them in the past 40 years. They should be aware of the dangers!”
Wynand Coetzer of The Farm, Hopetown, undertakes all forms of training regarding firearms, from the basic proficiency level up to tactical level such as transporting cash, anti-poaching patrolling and defensive training.
You are free to contact him on 053-207-7024 or 082-495-3551, or send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com. You can also visit the website: www.thefarm.org.za.