DA launches unit to help fight farm attacks after two more incidents in one night
Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance has launched a nation-wide court watching briefs unit as a means to specifically assist in fighting farm attacks and to putting the attackers behind bars, the party said on Sunday.
"The situation in our rural areas is now beyond urgent, with a sharp rise in terrible attacks and murders in June. There were two further attacks in KwaZulu-Natal just last night [Saturday]," DA shadow minister of state security Dianne Kohler-Barnard said.
In 2001, for every 100 violent crimes - murder, rape, and aggravated robbery - reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS), in only six cases had the perpetrators been convicted after more than two years.
"Twenty years on and there are claims that law enforcement has all but collapsed. The National Director of Public Prosecutions advocate Shamila Batohi says the system is buckling in the face of rising crime and dismally low prosecution rates. Indeed, last year prosecution rates for serious offences were as low as two percent," Kohler-Barnard said.
The watching briefs initiative was introduced by the Western Cape community safety department to act in accordance with the constitutional provisions contained in section 206 (3) of the Constitution, which provided that every province was entitled to monitor police conduct and report inefficiencies.
"The work of the Western Cape unit successfully prevents cases being dropped from the [court] roll and helps achieve convictions on the basis of evidence," she said.
The unit would act as an unofficial go-between between the police, the prosecution services, and the victims of farm attacks or other related crimes, in the best interests of a victim or victims, in order to facilitate the proceedings and to achieve an optimum outcome.
"It will be approached as a method of assisting the various state entities, along with victims, to achieve, as unobtrusively as is possible, a quick, just outcome of any investigation or prosecution," Kohler-Barnard said.
A watching brief could and should monitor police conduct; monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of the police service; promote good relations between the police and the community; assess the effectiveness of visible policing; and liaise with the DA's shadow cabinet member responsible for policing or prosecutions with respect to crime, policing, and prosecutions.
"One of our own councillors, herself a farmer, was brutally attacked over five years ago, and despite DNA proof, the alleged attacker is still free and living near her. Why and how could this possibly happen in South Africa today? What chance does a farmer have to see justice done if he, his family, a farm manager, a farmworker, or a visitor to the farm is attacked or murdered? With our rural safety watching briefs initiatives the DA hopes to improve those chances," Kohler-Barnard said.
"For our DA watching brief project we have nine provincial heads, all of whom are ready to assist in any farm attack situation to ensure the entire criminal justice system works smoothly from the police, through the courts, and ending in the prisons.
"Farm attacks are a scourge that plagues our country and as long as the attackers get away with their crimes the horror is just going to continue. With this initiative the DA seeks to ensure that criminals end up behind bars as soon as possible and the violence comes to an end," Kohler-Barnard said.
African News Agency (ANA)