Government must do more to protect farmers and farm workers

Ismail Obaray, MPL

DA Provincial Spokesperson of Agriculture

The DA strongly condemns the vicious attack on a chicken farmer and his wife, which occurred on their Windsorton plot on Saturday morning.

Rural safety in the Northern Cape is critically important to food security, job security and sustainable agricultural growth. As such, every attack or incidence of crime in the agricultural production sector not only affects our farmers, farm workers and rural communities, but also puts the country at risk.

Failure by government to ensure safety and security of our rural communities thus threatens food security and   encourages criminal activity to flourish.

Government must therefore do everything in its power to improve policing of rural areas to ensure the safety of the very people who put food on our tables.

In 2006/07, SAPS made a conscious decision to stop reporting farm murders and attacks as separate statistics. These figures are now reported under house robberies and murders. This serves to obscure reality and in turn prevents authorities from taking decisive action against rural crimes. In this regard, the DA proposes that SAPS must keep separate statistics on specific crime categories, including attacks and murders on farms.

Having recognised the threat to rural communities, the DA has called for the establishment of highly specialised rural safety units. At the same time, we want SAPS to deploy specialised Rural Reaction units to clearly identified rural crime “hotspots”, such as Windsorton, on a rotating basis.  These specialised units will assist in filling the vacuum left by the abandonment of the “Kommando” system in 2007, which has left rural communities vulnerable to crime.

In addition to the above, the DA proposes that government sets up a toll free contact number on which rural communities can report suspicious activity or any other threats they have had to their safety. This hotline should be linked to the Rural Reaction units, which can then be quickly deployed when and where appropriate.

The DA will write a letter to SAPS to request the stats for farm attacks and farm murders in the province, for the past five years. The DA takes threats to our farming and rural communities very seriously. We only wish the current administration will start to do the same!