“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 Africais reported to have one of, if not the, highest rape rate in the world.“ (www.gunownerssa.org)
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.
With crime statistics such as farm attacks in the Limpopo area (Waterberg area mainly) from 1990 to 2015 where the victims were brutally murdered stand at 192 and attacks where the victims did not die are at 427 (they may not have died, but the abhorrent mutilation and other injuries these victims were subjected to and sustained will forever change their lives, and the lives of their loved ones). It is almost impossible to still try to grasp what we as South Africans find so extraordinary about our country.
But then we are stopped in our tracks by a handful of people trying to make the impossible, possible.
Heritage Protection Group is a non-profit organization with a sole purpose, TO INVESTIGATE, FIGHT AND PREVENT SERIOUS VIOLENT CRIMES.
A group of extraordinary people with a dedication that matches no other, decided to take hands and fight back, take back and save lives.
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 their focus area to the environment – which is very close to all our hearts – in fighting crimes such as arson and 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.
The communities have been trying to fight crime in their own way and the development of farm and neighborhood watches have 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.
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%.
Testimonial – “Ons is werklik trots dat, ten spyte van werkslading, julleonverpoost die verdagtesgejaag het enhullegearresteer het. Die BosveldMoordenRoofeenheidstaannou al bekenddat as daargesoek word virverdagtes, julleniesalgaanlêvoordat die verdagtesagtertralies is nie.”
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 establishing 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 farm murdershave become.
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 scenes 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 neighbors and friends were 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 numerous training to keep the community up to standard in relation to 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 where they could. With his close friends and neighborstraumatized 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 and to do his part in preventing them to hurt anybody else.
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. It 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 neighboring countries where murder, rape and other horrific crimes were an everyday occurrence.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.
Antoniewas a successful business man and when the opportunity presented itself to be part of the HPG team he did not think twice. Antonie died tragically in a motor vehicle accident shortly after HPG was established and the whole of HPG, and the community, will always be eternally grateful for his role as sole financial benefactor. May his sole rest in peace!
He will always be remembered for his passion 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.
Heritage Protection Group has made sure that they 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’s focus area will initially only cover the Limpopo Province, but HPG as a group have future initiatives in motion to branch out to other provinces throughout South Africa, eventually making sure that their 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 at the crime scene and secondly 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 other provinces in the near future.
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 provision of information and counseling to victims and witnesses through different services such as helping with the victim’s personal statements, witness care, trauma handling, special measures for vulnerable and intimidated witnesses, victim and witness protection and many more.
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 aresupported by air support from various service providers (normally at no cost!) and the technical back-up to make sure that they are always ready to help where possible. The team currently consists of numerous trackers, 2 detectives, 1 pilot, dedicated professionals manning the JOC (joint operations center), and administrative personnel.
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.
We invite you to become part of this historical, exiting and extraordinary initiative. Heritage Protection Group is a non-profit organization and therefore we are solely dependent on community, corporate and individual financial donations. We are there to help every single individual in our focus area, donator or not, they deserve to feel secure and we will not make any distinction in this aspect.
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 Limpopo Province and communities within, and without your help our collective goal to serve and protect will be impossible.
You can visit the HPG website on www.heritageprotectiongroup.co.za where you will find all the appropriate contact numbers of the team members and more detailed information, or e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org.