Saai sues SAPS for damages suffered by Limpopo farmer due to illegal trespassers

The Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai) today issued a summons against the South African Police Service (SAPS) to insist that the farmer, Solly Letsoala, be compensated for the damage caused by illegal trespassers on his farm. This follows after Letsoala’s complaint (of the resulting theft and damage to his property) which he lodged with the SAPS in September 2023, did not result in any police action against the guilty parties. Saai has since assisted Letsoala with legal aid and the SAPS’s silence has led to an official summons being issued.

The summons demands that the SAPS must take responsibility for the more than R7 million worth of damage caused by illegal trespassers on Letsoala’s farm in Limpopo. This will cover the damage that Letsoala has suffered in terms of his property, implements and especially his mango production. According to Saai, the SAPS’s failure to act after Letsoala’s pleas that the police should intervene, can be considered as negligence.

“Saai wants to assist farmers who are confronted with illegal trespasses on their farm and where the SAPS, despite their constitutional duty, fails to act against it,” emphasises Theo de Jager, Saai’s Executive Director. This is why Saai launched a campaign against illegal trespassing. This campaign aims to raise awareness about the seriousness of increasing trespassing incidents and to ensure that the police are held accountable to act against this.

“Illegal trespassing is an increasing problem, while the SAPS is also increasingly failing to act against this. Saai will continue to push for trespassing laws to be sharpened and applied more strictly,” says De Jager.

Saai in February already sent a formal application in terms of the Act on the Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) to the SAPS to demand transparency about the larger trespassing problem. Among other things, Saai asked for reports on the number of reported incidents of trespassing and how many convictions there were. Saai will continue to apply pressure to obtain this information.

Saai encourages farmers to notify them of illegal trespassing incidents: Taking a Stand Against Trespassing on Farms – SAAI. The public can now also watch Saai’s video interviews with Letsoala to understand the seriousness of the trespassing issue.