Cape Town - As the ANC and the DA put heads together to fight the scourge of farm attacks, an agricultural expert has expressed concern about job losses in the whole agricultural value chain because of farm murders.
On Wednesday, opposition leader in the provincial parliament Cameron Dugmore said: “We will resist the temptation to make crime a party political issue.
“I have been mandated to set up a meeting later today with Premier Winde and a joint meeting with (National Police) Minister Bheki Cele as soon as possible.
“Now, more than ever, we have to focus on a united strategy to make our rural and urban communities safe and secure for all.
“As the ANC shadow cabinet, we are absolutely committed to working together with our national, provincial and local governments – and most importantly our communities – to make our province safe.”
In a live Facebook broadcast after a provincial cabinet meeting on the issue, Winde said farm attacks and murders were “an important issue for us across the board”.
“Murder is a really big thing for us. In the last six months we’ve had 1 875 murders in this province.”
Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer, who is driving the rural safety issue on behalf of the cabinet, spoke after the provincial cabinet, and said: “The cabinet today (Wednesday) has resolved to prioritise rural safety in our community, and specifically, the cabinet today, resolved to appoint an inter-ministerial committee to look at the rural safety of both the farmer and the farmworkers across this province.”
“The provincial government has established an inter-ministerial committee on rural safety which will, among others, be looking at a review and update of our rural safety plan.
“Tomorrow (today, June 6), the premier and I will be meeting with Agri Western Cape to discuss the issue further.
“Working with Community Safety, we will also be expanding our watching briefs court case monitoring to rural cases, to ensure that criminals are not let off by poor court processes.”
About the Sunday night murder of Stefan Smit, the owner of Louiesenhof Wines near Stellenbosch, Dugmore said: “The tragic murder has shocked us deeply. Our ANC shadow MEC for Agriculture, Pat Marran, and shadow MEC for Community Safety, Mesuli Kama, have been tasked to provide direct support and assistance to the SAPS as they pursue those responsible for this brutal murder.”
Jannie Strydom, chief executive of Agri Western Cape, said the murder of one farmer has an enormous impact on the whole agricultural value chain.
“When an agriculture producer gets murdered, production processes on the farm very often come to a complete halt, and that impacts food production.” Strydom said the instability which occurs after the killing of a farmer “influences the agricultural sector’s capacity to create and provide jobs.
“It also puts the entire value chain that needs raw product under pressure, which may also impact negatively on employment.”