The government department tasked with overseeing South Africa’s agricultural sector acknowledges problems with criminal acts notably attacks, murders and stock theft and its director general wants action to prevent crime and create stable farming communities.
Mike Mlengana, director general of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) opened a summit on farm killings, murders and stock theft in Pretoria earlier this month asking delegates to participate in stakeholder forums as one way of helping fight rural crime.
“The ongoing scourge of criminal attacks in the farming community is causing serious damage and uncertainty which may affect jobs, economic growth and food security. It cannot be left unattended,” he told an audience of agricultural organisations, farmers’ unions, organised labour, civil society and the inter-governmental delivery forum.
The forum was a platform for approaches and mechanisms to deal with crime against those in the farming sector as well as promoting partnerships, up to national government department level, to “combat brutal attacks against the farming community” Mlengana said.
The rural safety strategy was also raised in the forum with a call to participate and seek solutions to bring unity, safety and security to the agricultural sector.
On stock theft, the director general said it had become a business.
“There are indications of syndicate involvement and incidents of stock theft are rising at an alarming rate,” he said adding “farmers are concerned those arrested in connection with livestock theft do not receive appropriate punishment”.
Government’s most senior civil servant in the agriculture sector told the forum the sector had to work to create jobs and contribute to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and food security for all.
“These are our priorities and we must work together to achieve these goals.”