Continuing attacks – and murders – of farmers and their workers was under the spotlight in the National Assembly (NA) this week with a motion for an ad hoc committee to investigate these specific crimes debated.
One speaker, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow agriculture, land reform and rural development minister Noko Masipa told the house her party “had already” approached South African President Cyril Ramaphosa “urging” him to set up a commission of inquiry into farm murders and related crimes”.
“Despite the urgency of the issue, we haven’t had a concrete response from the President except to acknowledge the receipt of our letter,” she told NA members.
Also in favour of an ad hoc committee for farm murders and related crimes is the Freedom Front Plus (FF+). The party, by way of its leader Pieter Groenewald, sees the envisaged committee conducting a thorough investigation into farm attacks and murders as the national agricultural community ensures every South African has food on the table as well as contributing substantially to the national economy.
Another DA public representative, Brandon Golding, who sits on the Police Portfolio Committee as an additional member, also raised the food security issue calling the “ongoing scourge of farm attacks a blight on the [South African] nation”.
Masipa expressed hope the ad hoc committee would be the predecessor to a fully-fledged commission of inquiry which “will chart the way forward for safer farming communities”.
In his turn at the podium, Groenewald summarised the plight of South Africa’s farmers going back to first democratically elected president Nelson Mandela. The FF+ leader said Mandela recognised the importance of the sector in 1994 along with the necessity of looking after the country’s farmers adding “numerous plans were developed” including the SA Police Service (SAPS) 2012 rural crime prevention strategy adopted six years later.
“Plans on paper not put into practice mean nothing and are nothing but lip service,” he said quoting a specific example applicable to rural crime prevention.
“The use of drones (unmanned aerial vehicle [UAVs]) to assist with rural safety was proposed. Drones were indeed procured, but are used for other purposes,” according to him.