FARM MURDERS KILL JOBS AND UNDERMINE RECONCILIATION

Annette Steyn MP

DA Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

A recent spate of farm murders reflects the inability of government to provide physical safety and access to economic opportunity for all its citizens. Late last week, ‘Boy’ Jordaan was shot in cold blood in a mielie field on his farm between Barkley East and Maclear. David Dlali, an ANC MP, was killed on 10 June in Matatiele. The bail hearing for the recent murder of Mrs Helena Gouws from Ugie will take place today.

Failure to prevent farm attacks is a failure of collective governance. The DA calls on all relevant government departments – the police services (SAPS), rural affairs and agriculture – to better coordinate their efforts and improve their ability to gather intelligence and respond more swiftly and with greater effect.

The current situation is increasingly reminiscent of scenes from the late 90s, where in the space of three years 361 people were murdered in more than 2000 attacks on farms and smallholdings in South Africa. There is little that breaks trust and undermines attempts at reconciliation in South Africa quite as quickly as farm murders. It also creates radical uncertainty in rural areas, with farmers reluctant to re-invest and new investors strongly deterred. Thus it is not only farmers who suffer, but farmworkers especially.

Government’s draft National Development Plan (NDP) hopes to create 1 million jobs supported by agriculture by 2030. That is a pipedream diminishing by the day unless government acts with purpose and an effective long-term plan to reverse the current disaster.

Estimates indicate that at least 1 500 farmers have been murdered and approximately 3 000 farmers attacked on their farms since 1994. SAPS have since 2007 refused to publically release its official statistics, though it apparently does still record these. A committee of Inquiry into Farm Attacks was appointed in 2001 by the National Commissioner of Police. Interestingly it found that in 2001, only 61% of farm attack victims were on white people.

Farm attacks, then, are a war against all South Africans and should never be narrowly caricatured as a race issue. If government is serious about reconciliation and creating access to economic opportunity for all South Africans, it will move with clarity and efficacy to prevent further attacks.

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