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Illegal miners intimidate Free State farmer with reverse arrest scam

Firearms Guardian today issued another warning to all firearm owners to beware of an increasing number of reverse arrest scams – a trump card commonly used by criminals, trespassers and illegal miners, especially on farms.

According to former Regional Court magistrate, adv. Henk Nolte, the scam entails that the perpetrators of a crime lays a counterclaim against the victim, such as assault, harassment and even kidnapping. This is done to intimidate the victim into dropping their charges. “In August, four members of the farming community in the Free State were subject to this new trap. They were caught unawares and found themselves being treated unfairly by the police and thrown in jail cells. If these farmers were policyholders of Firearms Guardian, they might never have seen the inside of a jail cell.”

According to Adv. Nolte, it is very concerning how frequently this trap is being played out. “Firearms Guardian wants to assure you that you have the right,  as the owner of a legal firearm,  to protect your family and property from evildoers. You have the right to conduct a legal citizen’s arrest. We encourage our members to call us straight after the police are called out to a scene, to avoid unfair treatment and to ensure immediate assistance and representation, especially if a counter charge is brought against you.”

Illegal miners intimidate farmer:

TP Theron, a Free State farmer has been a recent victim of the reverse arrest scam where he was intimidated by illegal miners operating on his farm and was subsequently arrested for defending his property. TP now faces charges of theft and assault.

For three years, TP has been facing an uphill battle with illegal miners operating on his land and they refuse to leave. He has received very little help from the police. Things reached a boiling point when the illegal miners stopped in a bakkie near  TP’s house in an attempt to confront and intimate him.

“The whole situation is very frustrating and utterly ridiculous. We have been fighting illegal trespassers and illegal mining activities for three years and we get nowhere. The police offered us very little help,  and we got no answers from the municipality either,” says TP.

“I called the police, and due to a delay in response time, I had a verbal confrontation with one of the miners,” explains TP. “In the hour it took for the police to respond, the situation escalated further and I was assaulted. Nevertheless, I was able to confiscate their car keys and a cell phone to keep them there until the police arrived to make sure they didn’t flee. When the police were finally on the scene, each party was given the opportunity to present their case to the investigating officer.”

They then proceeded to the police station. There, TP was arrested and charged with assault. The police put him in a cell for a few hours until his lawyer came to bail him out.

Earlier in August,  two Free State sisters were harassed and arrested by police on their farm after trying to defend their livestock.

According to Firearm Guardian’s expert in criminal law, Llewelyn Curlewis it is the best course of action to avoid any further confrontation and try and obtain an eviction order to lawfully remove illegal miners or squatters from your land.

1. Is this a case of unlawful arrest, and how would it be handled in court? 

If it is indeed unlawful, then a possible civil law suit could follow against the Minister of Police and the arresting officers in due course, but within maximum 3 years before prescription takes place. The law of delict will determine if the arrest was indeed unlawful or not and that will depend on whether the evidence proves that the SAPS had a reasonable suspicion that an offence was possibly committed or not. If a charge was filed against TP by the miners under oath, then the court might very well find that the SAPS acted within the scope of their legal right/obligation to arrest. The merits of the possible defence of TP are really  not relevant at this stage, since that is for a criminal court to consider.

2. What is the best thing to do in this position from a legal point of view?

Avoid further confrontation. Go into the house and secure your own safety and that of your family. Phone friends, family members, neighbours, your local community security, etc. to come and assist and keep on phoning the SAPS. Use your cell phone or other installed surveillance equipment to your advantage to later be able to corroborate your version of events. Using your weapon to protect yourself, others or your property should be a last resort.

3. What steps should a farmer or landowner take to remove illegal miners or dwellers from his property?

Get urgent legal assistance from a lawyer and follow the prescribed steps that are obligatory in terms of existing legislation,  to apply for an eviction order by means of the intervention of a court. Do not attempt to take the law into your own hands since the same will result in either a spoliation application by the miners to restore their position, alternatively a violent showdown and bloodbath. Eviction orders are unfortunately expensive, take time and require legal knowledge and compliance to a lot of prescribed legal requirements to be successful.

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