A Democratic Alliance (DA) MP wants to know how many farm murders will be enough for government to take action, with another political party calling on the country’s farmers to register and make use of security systems implemented by local agricultural unions.
The calls come in the wake of four farm attacks last week which, according to opposition Freedom Front Plus (FF+) leader Pieter Groenewald rings to 22 the number of attacks in August.
“Six people were killed in these attacks,” he said, adding there were 277 attacks last year which saw 55 people murdered.
Annette Steyn, DA shadow agriculture, forestry and fisheries deputy minister, maintains “it’s time for swift and effective action” from government.
“Government has continuously failed to put into action already set up plans for rural safety that will mean farm workers and farmers no longer have to be subjected to torture, murder or fear falling victim to brutal attacks,” she said.
“If government is serious about food security and combating farm murders it will have to start supporting local agricultural unions’ needs as the SA Police Service rural security plan is not making the grade,” Groenewald said.
“Circumstances on farms are such that farmers and their families need to be able to activate security systems very quickly in the event of an attack.
“Cases like those in Bothaville in Free State and Wolmaransstad in North West are proof these systems are effective as the farm attackers were arrested before residents were harmed.”
He plans to approach all agricultural unions and organisations for an assessment of what is needed to protect the South African agricultural community in its entirety. This information will provide the basis of an approach to government to support rural security systems.
Steyn wants Police Minister Fikile Mbulala to report to the Police Portfolio Committee to explain “the continued failure to protect farming communities”. She also plans calling for oversight visits to measure the extent to which rural police stations are equipped to deal with issues including farm attacks and murders as well as other violent crimes in rural areas and communities.
“Government,” she said, “needs to prioritise the safety of farming communities as workers and farmers, like other South Africans, also have a right to be protected from violent and brutal attacks”.
Earlier this year Groenewald told a debate on farm murders in the National Assembly it was more dangerous being a farmer than a policeman in South Africa.
He cited the world average for murders as seven for every 100 000 of population, in South Africa it is 33 for every 100 000. When it comes to police the number stands at 54 per 100 000 and for farmers it is 133 per 100 000.