By Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Community Safety and Liaison:
THE DA will today write to KZN’s Community Safety portfolio committee chairperson, calling for an urgent report from both KZN’s Community Safety department and the provincial SAPS on its rural safety strategy, following an attack on an Underberg farmer and his family this weekend.
The man and his family were surprised by five intruders during the early hours on Sunday morning. They were all tied up while his wife was also pistol whipped over the head.
According to the farmer, the attackers wanted money and firearms. They also took watches, laptops and electronic goods. His car was also stolen but was later found on the Impendle Road.
Fortunately no one was severely injured but the family are severely traumatised and will require psychological counselling. He has commended the response by local SAPS as well as the crime intelligence and forensics from Kokstad. This, after a mayday call was made.
The DA strongly condemns this shocking act. The entire Underberg community has been left reeling which only proves that rural crime does not only affect the individual but the entire community.
It is clear that current departmental and SAPS rural safety preventative initiatives are not working adequately to keep both farmers and farm workers safe. One of the main problems in rural police stations is that there are not enough police officers and vehicles to undertake proper patrols.
The DA has long called for existing rural policing policies and programmes to be reviewed in order to address ongoing shortfalls.
Amongst others, we have called for;
– Specialised rural safety units within the SAPS
– Specialised Rural Reaction Units to clearly identified rural crime hotspots on a roving basis
– Improved rural crime intelligence gathering – the creation of a SAPS Rural Intelligence Centre would improve the gathering and analysing of rural crime information and thus better inform crime prevention initiatives
We expect KZN Community Safety MEC, Willies Mchunu, to heed our advice – the department’s current interventions are not dealing with this crisis.