Man loses drones to looters in South Africa

The violent protests that characterised South Africa in the past week may have gone quiet for now, but they left a hole in the heart of one man in KwaZulu Natal, who lost a set of crop spraying drones to the looters.

Wayne Kennedy – a former pilot with the South African Airways who lives in a suburb on the outskirts of EThekwini Metropolitan Municipality in Kwazulu Natal – has sent an SOS to the local community on social media to be on the lookout for a set of agricultural drones, which were stolen from his garage during last week’s violent riots, whose death toll currently stands at 215, with millions of dollars’ worth of property looted or burned.

It was during the melee that looters raided a storage garage owned by Kennedy – who is a qualified drone pilot – and made off with his two agricultural drones.

“To the wonderful community in Hillcrest and Waterfall and Upper Highway,” Kennedy wrote on a post on Facebook. “My storage garage was looted in Brakenfell Waterfall and both these drones were stolen. Both drones are housed in shiny aluminium container boxes.

“These are really big drones with a wingspan of two meters. If anyone should come across them, please contact me. Cell +27 83 267 6666.”

There is a prize the for drones’ recovery

The Waterfall area was one of the worst affected by looting in Durban, and government and to deploy the army to quell the violence.

Sadly however, the security forces did not arrive in time to save Kennedy’s storage garage.

One of the drones he lost looks was a DJI Agras T20, a really big crop spraying bird with a capacity to stay in the air for ten minutes while carrying 20 litres of spray. First issued by DJI only in November last year, the drone cost an average of $20,000.

The other drone is the Agras MG-1, DJI’s prototype agricultural octocopter, which made its debut on the agricultural drone scene in 2015. It costs roughly $15,000.

Which makes it easy to understand then, why Kennedy is offering a reward of RSA R20,000 for his drones’ safe return.

At the time of writing, the two UAVs had not been sighted yet, and their search continues.


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