FF+ wants Commando system back after spate of farm murders
Written by Kim Helfrich, Friday, 17 February 2017
Werner Weber, leader of the opposition Freedom Front Plus (FF+) party in Mpumalanga, said this week the murder of four members of the Smuts family on their farm outside Balfour, less than 100km from Johannesburg, was another clarion call for the Commando system to be brought back.
South Africa’s Commandos operated as a home guard and were also responsible for security at National Key Points (NKPs) as well as assisting the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and SA Police Service (SAPS) with border protection until their disbandment in 2003 at the behest of then president Thabo Mbeki.
“When the Commandos were discontinued, there was an undertaking from government for another structure in their place. A rural security plan was announced by government but as of now is still not fully operational,” he said.
Weber wants to know if government plans to implement the rural security plan and will be asking questions about it to both the SA Police Service and the Department of Defence.
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At the same time the party’s Free State leader Jan van Niekerk maintains farm murders are not only personal in terms of the loss to family and friends but they also impact negatively on South Africa’s gross domestic product. Further down the line he sees the continuing attacks on farmers, their families and workers as having detrimental impact on employment, particularly in rural areas.
“Agriculture employs close on two hundred thousand people, just on seven percent of the national workforce. The country’s 35 000 commercial farmers cannot stand by and watch as work security and worker welfare is further threatened by yet more farm attacks and murders,” he said.
At the time of Mbeki’s announcement that the Commandos would be disbanded the opposition Democratic Alliance said it was “an irresponsible political move which leaves all farmers and farm workers defenceless and easy targets for criminals”.
The most recent farm attacks have seen people killed in Marquard in Free State, Bela Bela in Limpopo and Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal as well as the most recent incident in Balfour, Mpumalanga. Seven people were killed in these attacks with AfriForum reporting a total of 11 farm murders and 30 attacks to date in February.
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