Crime and South Africa has unfortunately become synonymous. One cannot be mentioned without the other. We as South Africans boast about our beautiful country and our beautiful people, but the reality is not so sweet a picture as a beautiful rainbow that is portrayed to the rest of the world.
In South Africa the level of violent crime is extraordinarily high and of utmost concern to the government and population alike. Approximately one third of all reported crimes in South Africa are violent in nature, including murder, attempted murder, robbery, assault (common and GBH) and rape. The murder rate stands at about eight times the international average and South Africa is reported to have one of, if not the, highest rape rate in the world. — gunownerssa.org
HPG focuses only on serious violent crimes of which farm murders is one of the highest priorities. These crimes, abhorrent and violent which cannot be explained in words has been on-going from the mid-eighties, and with the services of the Commando Force being closed down, as well as the SAPS Murder and Robbery expertise declining and eventually mostly lost during recent years, these crimes have become part of society, with weekly attacks and few still trying to save as many lives as possible.
Another very personal fight that HPG is taking back to the criminals is our precious wildlife which is also continuously threatened by poachers and criminals. HPG will also extend our focus area to the environment – which is very close to all our hearts – in fighting crimes such as arson and the pollution of vegetation, soil and water. Mother Earth is a very talked about subject, and we as HPG will do our share to be part of the solution.
Many communities have been trying to fight crime in their own way through the development of farm and neighbourhood watches, which has certainly contributed to bringing down criminal activities, but unfortunately they can only go so far and this is where HPG is prepared to take it to the next level.
The nature of the threats to our people and communities require expertise and skills which are gradually being lost, but captured within the heart of HPG. Heritage Protection Group has made sure that we are up to date with the latest technology, such as software, IT networks, digital forums and lots more, and they will make sure to utilize these special ways to detect and help with the capture of criminals in all ways possible.
HPG will cover the Limpopo Province, which includes the towns and surrounding areas and smaller communities in the province, but HPG as a group have future initiatives in motion to branch out to other provinces throughout South Africa, eventually making sure that our expertise and leadership in the fighting of crime is to the benefit of every single South African.
HPG is currently focusing heavily on training, and will keep on developing individuals to assist them, the SAP and others in two main areas. Firstly in the tracking of criminals, which starts with the crime scene and the protection of all evidence in the crime scene and secondly the training in the forensics of the scene. HPG will identify individuals to be trained and developed and this has already started in the Limpopo Province, and will be extended to the other provinces in the near future. This is a very crucial focus as it makes the response time to a crime scene as quick as possible, thereby ensuring that all the evidence stays intact and can be used in the best possible ways to track and capture the criminals.
HPG team currently have 7 trackers, 3 detectives, 2 pilots and 2 specialists on the JOC, and the team is growing on a weekly basis with all the training that is done. All of the HPG team has military background, various training and many years of experience. Most of them have been doing this for years without remuneration, all on their own cost and time, no questions asked. All of them are reservists and when they go out to a crime scene it is as a police detective and police tracker.
Most of the team of HPG is from the Waterberg area, and this makes their knowledge of the area a disadvantage to criminals, as there are few places to hide that HPG cannot find them. Most of the roads and other infrastructure of the area are well known to the team and the shortest and quickest way is the only way when it comes to finding suspects, and knowing your surroundings makes these major successes possible.
Another very important role that HPG plays in the process of crime fighting is the providing of information and counsel to victims and witnesses through different services such as helping with the victims personal statements, witness care, trauma handling, special measures for vulnerable and intimidated witnesses, victim and witness protection and many more. Most of the team can deliver this service, but where it is not possible they have a group of specialists ready to help where they can.
What makes HPG unique you may ask. There are so many answers to that question, and most of them have already been covered, but one remains – our acquisitions. Our team of qualified and dedicated personnel will be backed up by a helicopter with crew and the technical back-up to make sure that they are always ready to help where possible. We are ready to utilize and use appropriate intelligence and in our partnerships with similar support groups we are confident that we can make a major difference in the face of crime in South Africa.
Our current skills include experienced investigators and expert trackers of which the following people will be leading the initiative:
Lt.Col. Gawie (Sakkie) Louwrens was part of the SAPS for 26 years and in these years of service his dedication and hard work was awarded with many life sentences, world records, commendations and certificates (commended for outstanding services rendered in that he arrested the most wanted Groblersdal Serial Killer, commended for outstanding services rendered in that he performed in the investigation of a crime, commendation on solving farm attacks, and many more). During his time as part (founder member) of the Bushveld Murder and Robbery unit they were nominated as the best murder and robbery unit national with a detection rate of 98%.
In the years from 2006 to 2009 Sakkie Louwrens was commander of a task team investigating serial killers and rapist (children). This team received an award from the Provincial Commissioner Limpopo Province 2009 for the most successful task team. Sakkie then moved on to become the commander of the Harmful Occult Related Practices And Missing Persons Unit which arrested a serial killer in Groblersdal within 6 days of the establishing of the team which is a world record in serial killing arrests. His team received a National Award from National Commissioner Phyega as the best team in South Africa pertaining to Serial Killings. His team also received a certificate and trophy in Limpopo for the best investigation group.
Up to 2012, Sakkie Louwrens was involved in 133 farm attacks and up to the same year, he was involved in 3217 other criminal cases. With his resignation from the SAPS, shock and concern was evident in that the SAPS lost such a great leader and investigator and in the words of Brig. Gerard Labuschagne – “A LEGEND, he will be missed…”
Lost to the SAPS but gained by HPG and this is most certainly a big comfort to every individual and community member in the Waterberg, to know that they have Sakkie Louwrens on their side, fighting and making sure that justice is served.
The fighting of crime and saving lives is truly a passion and way of life for Ben. Being there when somebody is in need has always come naturally for him and never missing a beat, he has been supporting the SAPS and others involved to help with the endemic that has become farm murders.
Ben has been part of the Commando service system from 1989 up to the shutting down in 2005. He was part of the Reaction Force of Potgietersrus (now known as Mokopane) and in this time he received training in different fields, from bush war training and crowd control, to SWOT and tracking as well as training in the analyses of different scenes and how to gather evidence.
During 1990 the Bushveld Murder and Robbery unit contacted Ben and the “Spoorsnyers” group to assist in farm attacks and other serious violent crimes, depending on them for tracking and the locating of suspects, as well as the study of the crime scene and then informing the commander of what exactly happened at the scene looking at the prints and other signs at the scene.
When the Commando Force was shut down in 2005 the “Spoorsnyers” group was immediately transferred to the SAP Reservists Unit Special Forces under the Bushveld Murder and Robbery Unit. Statistics do not lie, and where the “Spoorsnyers” was involved in a scene the success rate was 93%.
With Ben as part of the HPG family he currently patrols and services an area of 300km around Mokopane, assisting with farm attacks, rhino poaching and other violent crimes.
In Ben’s own words – “I do not know the victims of these attacks, but I do realize that after approximately 300 attacks that I was part of during my years of service, that the victims are utterly helpless and humiliated as well as traumatised during and after these attacks. Attacks such as these cannot be prevented and the security lies with the owners themselves. But we can however make sure that these criminals are caught and brought to book for their crimes so that the same group of people do not go out and traumatize, kill and humiliate another family or individual.”
Steven almost became one of the statistics in 1984 when his neighbours and friends was attacked and robbed of money and three of the victims were shot. This event changed his life and gave it a whole other meaning.
He served in Atlas Commando in 1982 and after that in General Beyers Regiment. In 1984 he was transferred to Potgietersrus (now known as Mokopane) Commando where he was TPT Officer Admin in the Es 4 Division. He was involved in the Potgietersrus Commando from 1984 till the shutdown in 2006. He was Sergeant Major at this time.
In 1992 his life turned to farming and his passion for our land was evident in his dedication to preserving and managing all aspects of it by firstly becoming involved in 2001 in the TAU as member of the Sterkrivier Farmers Association. He served as secretary and in 2002 became involved in the Security Committee. He underwent different training to keep the community up to standard with relation to the security. He has been serving on the Water Board since 1995, the TAU since 2002 and today he is the chairman of Water at the TAU, chairman of the Fire Association from 2006 to date and was elected as the chairman of the North District in 2015. In 2015 he was awarded at the Business Chamber for best contribution to the community and also received the Nico Kilian trophy at the 2015 TAU Congress for Agricultural Person Of The Year.
Being a farmer meant that the communities were more than just friends, they looked out for each other and helped were they could. With has close friends and neighbours traumatised by farm attacks, Steven made a decision to become part of the fight to stop these violent crimes.
His personal objective and passion is to catch and remove these violent criminals from society, to do his part in preventing them to hurt anybody else.
Tracking is not just something to keep him busy, it is his passion and to serve his community is a privilege. This is Chris Human, selfless and dedicated.
With his background in the military, certain unique qualities has become part of who he is. He left the army in 1993 with the rank of Corporal, and joined the Potgietersrus (today known as Mokopane) Commando in 1996 and became part of the Reaction Unit until 2006 with the shutdown of the Commando Force. In this time he was promoted to the rank of AO2.
Since 2007 he has been serving as a reservist under the Bushveld Murder and Robbery Unit and is still a reservist to this day. Giving all his time, energy and compassion to the cause, the cause of saving lives, and this without any compensation. HPG has another winner in their team. Chris will do everything in his power and more to make sure that these crimes against humans and animals are fought every day, and eventually making the difference that will make all South African’s lives better.
If we think people are formed by their experiences from childhood to adulthood, Antonie van Niekerk, and the life he has lived, definitively stands out. Makes you take a step back and assess your own life and experiences, and how that has impacted on you as person.
Antonie was born in Zambia during a time of conflict between neighbouring countries where murder, rape and other horrific crimes was an everyday occurrence, and victims of these heinous crimes fled to Zambia for help. What he saw and experienced as a child during those times, will forever be part of him. In 1964 the conditions in Zambia had deteriorated to such an extent that his parents decided to move to RSA to begin a new life, leaving everything they had and know behind.
In 1979 Antonie’s life took on another direction. He was called up by the SADF and he made a promise to himself that he would do all he can to prevent RSA from becoming a North Rhodesia. He joined 41 Battalion (SWA) under Col. Delville Linford his Commander and mentor. Col. Linford shaped Antonie and taught him discipline, vision and durability, and to this day it is with pride that he talks about his years served and that he gave every bit of his life for RSA and SWA.
Today Antonie is a successful business man, ascribing his success to begin part of his team and guided by his leaders in his earlier years, and when the opportunity came up to be part of the HPG team he did not think twice. His passion will always be to serve his country and his community and to ensure safety for young and old, and to aspire and work toward a crime free RSA.
Please feel free to contact any member of the team for more information or any questions you may have about Heritage Protection Group. We are here to serve the communities of the Limpopo Province and without your support our collective goal to serve and protect will be impossible.