MEC must retract road rage statement about farmers

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga community safety, security and liaison MEC, Vusi Shongwe, must retract his statement about the involvement of farmers in the road rage incident that took place in Middelburg on Saturday 9 February.

In a statement issued yesterday, 12 February, which can be viewed by clicking here, the MEC states, “The attackers who were believed to be more than 50 at the scene, are allegedly members of a local group comprises of farmers.” The MEC concludes his statement, “We cannot allow such brutality in our communities. The law is applicable to everyone, whether white or black.”

This statement by the MEC is irresponsible and misguided. His deliberate singling out of farmers is factually incorrect and simply not true. No evidence exists to suggest that the culprits involved this road rage incident were part of a local group of farmers – and it is clear that the MEC is misinformed and has clearly been poorly briefed about the incident.

The MEC’s statement is further problematic in that it makes reference to assault with “fists and various weapons” as if this was done by the “farmers” and insinuates that “farmers” consider themselves not subject to the law.

Farmers in Mpumalanga have increasingly become targets of attack, both politically and physically, and irresponsible sweeping statements about farmers’ involvement in incidents like these could render them more vulnerable to attacks, revenge attacks and criticism. Farmers in Mpumalanga have a crucial contribution to make to the economy, employment and food security of the province and the country, and it is unfair to stereotype farmers into an incident where they were not involved in.

The road rage incident that took place in Middelburg is unfortunate and must be condemned. Arrests have already been made and those found to be in contravention of the law must face the consequences. However, no condemnation can seek to associate groups or individuals with an incident with which they hold no association.

The MEC must allow the investigations to continue without political interference, and should instead ensure the permanent visible presence of traffic officials from his department on Mpumalanga’s roads – especially on roads with construction works where reduced driving speed, limited vehicle manoeuvring space and restricted overtaking opportunities could lead to driver impatience. Every step must be taken to prevent a repeat of an incident like this.

The DA wishes all those traumatised and injured in this incident a full and speedy recovery.

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