Indications are police in KwaZulu-Natal, scene of probably the most heinous farm attack this year, will support farm murders being declared a hate crime and given a priority rating by provincial police.
This assurance comes from provincial legislature Democratic Alliance (DA) member Chris Pappas. He is the party’s KZN spokesman on agriculture and rural development and spoke in the wake of a provincial portfolio committee meeting this week.
Last month Weenen, a small farming community in the provincial heartland some 50 km from Estcourt, was rocked by the murder or a pregnant farmer’s wife. The dead woman was found with her throat cut in the bathroom of the family home on a farm close to the second-oldest European settlement in KZN. According to police nothing was taken from the house.
This week’s KZN portfolio committee meeting was a first with the provincial departments of agriculture and community safety both in attendance.
“We have been calling for this meeting for over six months to discuss ever-growing concerns around farm and rural safety,” Pappas said, adding the meeting was also attended by the Association for Rural Advancement Land Rights Advocacy (AFRA) and the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
“We believe police support on this issue will help turn the tide against farm and rural crimes. We welcome the police admission that there is a major problem and our campaign to focus on these attacks is yielding results,” he said.
The DA in KZN is of the opinion farmers, their families and workers are targeted because of isolation and vulnerability, distance to police and ages of farmers and farm workers.
Pappas will advocate for direct provincial subsidisation of private rural safety initiatives such as farm watches and farm patrols. He will also request a provincial safety summit on farm and rural safety where “deployment of resources and utilisation of political will” will be tabled in a further effort to shift strategies, policies and funding to better police rural security in the province.