Call for specialised police units in rural areas after farm killings


Farm attacks in Free State and North West have again put the focus on rural security with calls for specialised police units.

A Free State incident saw a Hopetown farm manager attacked and killed by unknown assailants apparently wearing police uniforms. The killing was termed “worrying” by the Freedom Front Plus in the country’s central province.

Provincial leader Jan van Niekerk, apart from calling for an extended manhunt for those who killed Boeta Powell (37), wants provincial authorities to urgently look at ways and means of upping rural safety.

“We, as a political party, will continue to pressure the provincial government,” he said adding farmers and those working for them “must do everything possible to protect themselves from attack”.

The past weekend saw another fatal farm attack this one in the JB Marks district municipality in North West. This prompted a call from the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the province to bring back SAPS (SA Police Service) rural safety units.

“The reality is millions living in rural communities are under siege from violent and vicious crime,” provincial leader Joe McGluwa said adding rural areas were becoming “war zones”.

“We want a police service that is well-resourced, well trained and capable of fighting crime at all levels in communities across the length and breadth of South Africa,” he said after Powell’s killing was made public.

Police statistics released in mid-2018 showed farm attacks increased to 561 for the 2017/18 year, while there as a decrease in attacks over the previous three years. The figures show over the six years since 2012, there were 3 059 attacks in total, on average 509,8 a year, in which 338 people were killed averaging 56,3 a year. North West and Gauteng provinces were the worst hit.