Farmers get military training to protect themselves against attacks

By Nico Gous

“If I want to become a painter‚ I am not going to learn how to paint on the computer; I am going to paint on a canvas.”

Farmer Gerdus du Plessis, 25, takes instruction from Idan Abolnik. Idan Abolnik, an ex highly trained soldier in the Israeli army, Who now lives in South Africa, instructs farmers and concerned citizens in advanced self defense methods and weapon training. Abolnik believes that he is empowering people through his training techiques. He also trains various law enforcement sectors. SWAT National Firearms Centre, Zwartkops, Centurion. Picture: ALON SKUY/THE TIMES

Herman Mostert‚ 22‚ is not talking about painting. He is talking about your heart hammering in your chest and your body entering a primal state where you either fight or flee.

He grew up on a farm close to Cullinan. He recently did a 14-day training course under the militaristic mentorship of Idan Abolnik to defend himself in case of a farm attack.

Abolnik said: “The element of fear‚ panic‚ tunnel vision‚ shock – we all are going to have it. What I teach is not to freeze‚ to‚ with all this stress‚ still to understand what you are dealing with‚ to see the opportunity for you‚ you can survive.”

Abolnik‚ 41‚ joined the Israeli military in 1994 and trained soldiers in Spain‚ Netherlands‚ Britain‚ France‚ Italy‚ the United States of America and the South African police.

Abolnik first offered his programme for farmers to protect themselves in 2005. He believes farm attacks are a form of terrorism.

“The people are much more professional‚ much more well-trained. Their motive is much stronger‚” he said.

“Torture has to be involved. Cutting body parts has to be involved. Rape of women has to be involved. And maybe then they will kill the innocent people.”

The training covers arresting techniques‚ weapons training‚ information gathering‚ hand-to-hand combat‚ and bush and urban warfare.

The men went to the SWAT National Firearms Centre in Zwartkops‚ Centurion‚ on Thursday for their final day. There skins were tanned and they were caked in dust and dirt. White dressings covered busted knees and elbows‚ with the odd speck of dry blood visible. One or two were limping.

Potchefstroom salesman Henk Coetzee‚ 38‚ said: “This (the training) is not easy. It is not nice. It is painful. We get hurt all the time.”

He said he is doing the training to protect his family.

“They’re the most important things for me‚ so I will protect them with everything I have.”

The men train at a small dilapidated building at the shooting range.

One of the men is armed with a 9mm pistol. He creeps around a corner‚ fires two shots and retreats to reload. The man did not take sufficient cover when he was reloading and Abolnik is unhappy.

“There are superheroes here‚ I see. They change magazine‚ they don’t take cover. Again. Move!”

Gerdus du Plessis‚ 25‚ is a vegetable farmer from Nelspruit who decided to do the training after his neighbour was stabbed 40 times on his farm and died.

He wants to share his knowledge with others‚ so that “when they’re alone at the house‚ far from police‚ and all of that … they can help themselves”.

Henry Geldenhuys‚ chairman of the safety and security committee of agricultural union TAU SA‚ said they support Abolnik’s training.

According to TAU SA’s data‚ there have been 1‚912 farm murders and 4‚398 farm attacks since 1990.

Abolnik will offer the training again in October. It costs R20‚000.

-The Times


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