It all started when two members of the Overberg Branch of the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SA Hunters) dropped of a few bags of mealies on a visit to farmers in Sutherland to demonstrate their compassion for the people affected. Overwhelmed by the impact of the drought, Frank Esterhuizen and Essie Esterhuyze decided to approach their fellow hunters in the Overberg community for donations of food and money for Sutherland.
Sutherland is one of numerous drought-stricken regions in the country. Owing to its remote location away from main feeder roads, this community has received very little aid. The cost and availability of transport is a major stumbling block to move goods to this area.
Overberg convoy to Verlatenpas
The outreach project that Frank and Essie had started, inspired hunters and other inhabitants in the Overberg to donate feed and money to purchase more supplies and other essential goods for Sutherland. Donors could transfer money into the bank account of KaapAgri for extra feed, while KaapAgri also made generous contributions to the fund. Businesses in the area opened their hearts and wallets and contributed in various tangible ways.
“We did not expect the drought relief to increase from two to eight bakkie loads,” says Justus Harms, chairperson of the SA Hunters’ Overberg Branch. “When we needed trailers to transport the goods, Jimmy’s Trailers in Strand provided us with five trailers for three days without charging us a cent.
“Many Overberg farmers that understand the dire need in the agricultural sector, generously donated animal feed to fill the vehicles. The first convoy left Villiersdorp at 07:30 on 24 November 2017, and by 12:00 we arrived in Sutherland. Fifteen tonnes of feed and other supplies were handed over to the Sutherland drought committee at the town’s showgrounds to be distributed to the farmers.”
But that is not where the story ended. Two months later, on 23 February 2018, they did it again and again. “Since November 2017, hunters from the Overberg Branch delivered 480 tonnes of drought aid to Sutherland. Some farms in the area received rain for the first time in five years, but it will take years before the veld will recover. It is very difficult. Many animals and people go without food on many days,” said Justus.
Following seven convoys of animal feed and other supplies to the people and animals of Sutherland, the total contribution from the Overberg Branch drought relief project amounted to R1 041 000 comprising:
- 82 tonnes mealies worth R287 000
- 333 tonnes hay worth R293 000
- Groceries to the value of R47 000
- Fuel costs to the value of R164 000
- R250 000 in cash to purchase animal feed, groceries and fuel
- A total of 36 000 kilometres were covered by the convoy
The transport cost is for fuel only. The costs for the use of bakkies, trucks and trailers are not included, but were donated by individuals and businesses in the Overberg.
Overberg branch management and other helpers divide massesacks
Justus said the branch is grateful for all the donations and assistance. The Overberg Branch has heartfelt gratitude towards Danie de Waal that looked after the logistics of collecting and transporting donations to Sutherland. ‘Without his dedication and hard work, this project would not have been possible.”
Justus hopes that more branches of SA Hunters will follow this example to assist people in other areas affected by the drought. “I know of farmers in the northern parts of the Eastern Cape that handed their farmhouse keys to their neighbours and simply left. I believe there is enough food in the southern parts of the Eastern Cape that can bring relief to those areas.”
Overberg Branch’s drought relief has been received with enormous appreciation by the Sutherland community. “Hunters are conservationists. That is what the Association stands for. I hope the public realise that we do not take from nature without giving something back.”
The drought relief project will continue for as long as there is food available. Anyone that wishes to contribute towards this project, can contact Justus at 082 497 4230 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The need is enormous. Any donations to Overberg Branch drought relief fund are welcome. Financial donations can be paid in to anyone of the following two accounts:
Kaap Agri banking details (use 43308 as a reference)
ABSA account number: 380 000 350
Branch code: 632 005
FNB account number: 6210 818 5663
Branch code: 250 655
Overberg Branch banking details (use DROUGHT as a reference)
Branch code: 200312
Account number. 6211 487 1016
Convoy on the way to Sutherland