KZN farm murders – an attack on the entire rural community

Sizwe Mchunu, MPP 

Leader of the DA in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature

Note: This speech was delivered at the Legislature to the People in Dundee on 31 October 2013

I begin with a quote by Koos Marais of KwaNalu.  “The inability of the government to deal with crime has a huge impact and inhibiting factor on successful farming and agriculture, affecting every farmer. It is virtually impossible to calculate the enormous cost of crime to the farmer, consumer and the country. Crime will continue and increase if there is no political will and all the legal structures do not operate to its full potential to combat crime.”

According to KwaNalu’s records (please note that these are records only and not stats, which would include other types of violent crime such as domestic disputes, rape etc under the heading ‘attacks on farms’) the following murderous attacks took placed on commercial farms during the past 5 years:

2008     6 murders                 (2x White males (WM); 1 xWhite female (WF); 1x Indian male (IM); 2x African male (AM)

2009                6 murders                               (3x WM; 1x IM; 2xAM)

2010                10 murders (3 on one farm)   (1xWM; 2x WF; 1xIM; 5xAM; 1xAF)

2011                1 murder                                 (1xWM)

2012                4 murders                               (3xWM; 1xAM)

 

2013                9 murders                               (7xWM; 1X IM; 1xAM)

It is unacceptable that any person should live in constant fear of attacks.

The overall impact of these violent crimes on the commercial farming industry is so much bigger than just the trauma of the attack.  Such attacks lead to a corrosion of commercial farming as people leave the farms on which they/ their families/ employers etc were attacked and take to the cities for jobs – or they emigrate.

The agricultural union also raises the issue of the disbandment of the old commando units which has left no immediately available police resources to attend to rural crimes.  They argue that sectoral policing has not been introduced into local rural community areas, resulting in huge time delays when the police are called out to a farm in the country.

Farmers are often easy targets. The criminals know their movements, those of their families and their workers. This means that police service on the ground level needs to be stepped up.  It should not be left to farmers to have to take the law into their own hands.

Incidents on KZN farms during 2013 include;

–        May 7: Peter Hackland, 61, of Cromleigh Farm in Carisbrook, Ixopo, was shot dead by two men inside his farmhouse

–        May 25: Dave Maratos, 65, was farm-sitting at Brydom Farm, in Greytown, when he was stabbed by unknown men. He died at the scene

–        July 28: George Fakude, 46, a Wartburg farm manager, was killed in an ambush in sugar cane fields

–        August 11: Newcastle farmer Timothy Green, 44, was killed at his Mellon Green Farm near Chelmsford Dam after he disturbed a burglary at his home

–        September 27: Eston sugar cane farmer Micky Hampson, 69, was killed by unidentified men on his farm

–        October 9: Eugene van der Merwe, 61, was beaten to death on Sunnyside Farm, Ixopo

–        October 17th:  Dan Knight, 56, was bludgeoned to death at his Underberg farm by five gun-and-hammer-wielding men

–        October 21:  78-year-old Willem Wietes was shot dead at his farm stall in Ngoje, near Vryheid.

These murders are an attack on the entire farming community of the province.

KwaZulu-Natal needs specialized, localized policing.

The DA in KZN will be calling for a debate in the next sitting of the legislature as to when the province is finally going to heed the party’s call to adopt the long-awaited Community Safety Bill.  This Bill was submitted months ago to the Speaker and is yet to be referred to a Portfolio Committee.  This alone is indicates that the ANC is not serious about tackling crime in this province.

The Community Safety Bill deals with precisely the issues of community involvement in effective policing that these tragic murders demand.   It aims to;

–        determine policing needs and priorities

–        monitor police conduct

–        oversee the effectiveness and efficiency of the police service, including receiving reports on the police service

–        and promote good relations between the police and the community.

If KwaZulu-Natal Community Safety MEC Willies Mchunu is serious about addressing crime then he should be hastening to get this Bill approved instead of leaving it to gather dust in the legislature.