Three more farm murders – this time in the Free State – has seen the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) in the province call government’s rural security plan a failure.
In March the National Assembly was told it was “nearly three times more dangerous to be a farmer in South Africa than a policeman” by party leader Pieter Groenewald during the first ever debate on farm attacks and murders in Parliament.
The most recent murders saw three people killed on farms in the Ladybrand and Wepener districts, FF+ Free State spokesman Jan van Niekerk said. He also repeated an earlier call made by Groenewald for government to urgently review its rural policing policy. Groenewald’s appeal in Parliament was supported by one of the party’s Free State members of the provincial legislature, Wouter Wessels, during the provincial budget debate on police, roads and traffic.
“Farm murders are often accompanied by shocking cruelty, for example where elderly people are burnt with irons and people have holes drilled in their feet by assailants,” he said in support of his call for a new plan of action to deal with the twin issues of farm attacks and murders in the largely agricultural central province of South Africa.
His call on the province’s agricultural community to up their own security as well as that of their workers was echoed by Van Niekerk.
“Farmers are urged to increase security and become part of local security networks and community watch organisations,” he said in the wake of the three April murders.
Latest available figures indicate 26 people have been killed on South African farms in the first three months of the year and while recently appointed Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has yet to make any public statement on the issue he has come out strongly against crime and criminals in general.
He was reported as saying: “We will meet fire with fire. Within the prescripts of the law we will shoot to defend the innocent. We will shoot to defend ourselves, the force and members of SAPS to ensure there is law and order in this country. Criminals will not reign”.
Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) deputy president Henry Geldenhuys welcomed the Mbalula’s “passion” and suggested police and the larger South African agricultural community should support each other.
“Those involved in violent crime should expect the same response should they choose to use violence against farm dwellers,” he said.