2 September 2020
Agriculture and Land Committee condemns attacks on farm owners and farm workers
The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has noted with grave concern the recent attacks on four farms in the Hartbeespoort area in North West Province.
The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, said: “Attacks on farms threaten the food security, employment figures and the economy of our country. Both farm workers and farm owners are of equal importance in the agricultural chain.”
The South African Human Rights Commission, after holding lengthy national Investigative Hearings into Safety and Security Challenges in the Farming Communities in 2014, recommended the removal of farm killings and farm attacks from its text as this nomenclature served to create a perceived hierarchy of crimes that were racially defined in terms of who the victim was and found the underlying cause of farm attacks was predominantly a criminal motive.
We must guard against calling farm attacks racial crimes.
Any type of violence against women and children is abhorred, in one of the attacks this past week, a woman and her children were held captive in their house and their car and valuables stolen. We must ensure the reduction of crime against vulnerable groups.
As a committee we will continue to call for an increase in visible policing in our communities. Community Policing Forums and Community Safety Forums must be strengthened and the committee encourages all communities to know their neighbours to create a non-racial and socially cohesive South Africa.
The Chairperson said, “We must, through our government’s approach to social compact, ensure that we all contribute meaningfully to the creation of peaceful and safer societies. We need to bring all the stakeholders and key role players on board in fighting the scourge of violent crimes.
“Rural farmers, farm workers and farming communities are especially vulnerable as they are isolated and far from essential services such as emergency medical care, fire and police services.
The urban/rural divide bequeathed to us by the legacies of colonialism, apartheid and further compounded by the slow pace of rural transformation and rural economic development, is a cause for grave concern and this bedevils our efforts to effectively wipe out crime.
We must ensure that we take collective responsibility for the safety and the development of rural communities.
“The set-up of the district councils in rural areas must play a role in ensuring that people living in their areas take part in deciding solutions to their problems.
Through the new district development models, we must further ensure the implementation of the National Rural Safety Strategy (NRSS).
“The killing of farmers and farm workers has tragically been with us for too long. It destroys rural neighbourhoods, leaving in its trail destruction, devastation and debilitating consequences beyond measure.
One of the key findings by Johan Burger, from the Institute for Security Studies, on a research conducted in 2018 on “Violent Crime on Farms and Smallholdings”, is that farm attacks and farm murders have increased in line with the general upward trend in South Africa’s serious and violent crimes, and these crimes have been found to share similarities with the trio crimes category of house robbery, business robbery, and carjacking.
“The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development will work with the Portfolio Committee on Police to ensure that rural communities, inclusive of farming communities, get the required protection and services from the South African Police Service”, said the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandela.