By Nerissa Card
At 5am on Monday (October 26), while many in the Midlands are still slumbering, a group of farmers and those who work with and support the industry, will leave with truckloads of supplies and head for the Free State. They will deliver the goods to their counterparts there whose land and livelihoods were devastated by wildfires recently.
A local farmer and businessman from Nottingham Road said: “People getting together and sending feed is an age-old practice. So we didn’t start anything. All over WhatsApp groups people are asking for help and feed runs are going on all over the country.”
He said he had made contact with a person from Utrecht who said he wanted to donate feed. “We started talking from there. No less than 20 people have donated directly.”
These have included bail and feed, people who have sponsored trucks and fuel to get them there. Some have paid for diesel.
*Request to #KZN Midlanders* "6 trucks leaving Nottingham Road; Monday morning 8am to Hertzogville. They'll be loaded with donated feed BUT we're running low on diesel donations. Please contact Oric Pretorius (082 458 1966) or Steve Bridgeford (072 859 4094) if you can help". ❤ pic.twitter.com/FLXy0fKMJO
— Lloyd Phillips (@PhillipsLM) October 23, 2020
The farmer said he had been in contact with people in Free State. “They have put me in touch with a guy who is part of the farmers’ association there. There is a drop-off point, so we will drop there and they will distribute it. We are talking about R100,000 in direct value, not retail. We all need to play our part, whether drought or fire or whatever happens, we must come together to help, not just as farmers, but as a country.
“We would like to keep this type of thing going. This time it was fires, next time it might be drought.”
The runaway fires last week destroyed about 100,000ha of crops in the areas of Hertzogville, Hoopstad and Christiana. Homes and barns were destroyed and hundreds of cattle killed or later put down due to their injuries.
TimesLIVE reported that other animals that succumbed included buffalo, kudu, sheep, antelope and warthog.
The causes of the fires are being investigated but it’s believed one serious fire began after a service delivery protest.
A case of arson was opened and at least 17 people have been arrested. – Video footage provided.
UPDATE: From up north, Jacaranda FM reports on donations and trucks heading from the northern provinces to Free State to help: “Initially, nine trucks were scheduled to leave for the western Free State on Sunday, October 25 – but thanks to Jacaranda FM listeners’ response, 50 truckloads of assistance reached the area. In addition, a total of R523,750 has so far been donated to Good Morning Angels to give assistance towards the Free State Farm Fires.” Read more about this story here.