Farmers must feel safe and protected

By Phumzile Van Damme MP, DA National Spokesperson:

The DA met with farmers, community members, South African Police Service (SAPS) and agricultural unions in Modimolle, Limpopo following a recent spate of farm attacks and murders in the area.

The DA learnt that since January 2015 there have been 22 farm attacks in Limpopo, and seven farm murders.

A DA delegation consisting of myself, Dianne Kohler Barnard, Annette Steyn, Jacques Smalle, Desiree van der Walt, Langa Bodlani, Kathlego Phaala found a community traumatised by these attacks.

The Station Commander at Modimolle Police Station informed us that half his vehicles were sitting at garages, and that he experienced high levels of absenteeism.  While the SAPS Captain says he has sufficient staff, he just doesn’t have the numbers to deal with the problems in the area.

According to SAPS, farm murders have increased by 30% in the country since 2010.

Experts predict that commercial farmer numbers will decline to 15 000 individuals over the next fifteen years, causing significant job losses in the agricultural sector added to which the local production of food will drop dramatically. This severely risks our food security as a country.

Farm attacks and murders not only tear families apart, but are a threat to the country’s food security and threaten job-creation in the agricultural sector.

The DA has repeatedly called for a new approach to rural safety that will put the protection of all rural communities at the heart of its approach.

To ensure the safety of all farming communities, the DA would:

  • Establish a specialised rural safety unit within the SAPS;
  • Deploy specialised Rural Reaction Units to clearly identify rural crime “hotspots” on a rotating basis;
  • Improve rural crime intelligence gathering; and
  • The creation of a SAPS Rural Intelligence Centre that will improve the gathering and analysing of rural crime information and thus better inform crime prevention initiatives.

It is clear that the lack of rural safety plan is having a massive impact on our rural community. The agricultural sector plays an important role in the South African economy as it provides jobs to a significant number of people.

These are people that feed our nation- farmers, farm workers, staff at commercial farms and emerging farmers all are vital to South Africa’s livelihood and deserve to be protected.

From discussions today with farmers, farm workers and the rural community at large it is clear that they increasingly feel isolated and unsafe. It is therefore up to government to ensure that this community is protected.

Every South African should feel safe and protected in our country. The DA will continue to fight for the safety and protection of rural communities.