DA MP and chairperson of the party's rural safety workstream Dianne Kohler Barnard. Picture: Cindy Waxa/ANA Pics
DA MP and chairperson of the party's rural safety workstream Dianne Kohler Barnard. Picture: Cindy Waxa/ANA Pics

It’s time for government to take concrete action against farm attacks, says DA

By ANA Reporter Time of article published Aug 2, 2020

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Cape Town - It is time for President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government to acknowledge the perpetual fear and danger that rural communities live and work in and take concrete action to fight farm attacks and improve rural safety, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.

"The annual crime statistic released on Friday show that another 49 farmers were slaughtered last year - four every month - while reliable reports tell us that another 26 farmers and farm workers have been murdered in the first half of this year during some 141 attacks," DA MP and chairperson of the party's rural safety workstream Dianne Kohler Barnard said in a statement.

Farmers, farm workers, their families, and their visitors, of all races, were at enormous threat. In the past 10 years 612 of them had been murdered, and there had been 2818 attacks on farms, leaving many people maimed, crippled, or blinded, she said.

The farmers of South Africa had been patient. But they had also been lied to over and over again. While the South African Police Service (SAPS) had created plan after plan, farmers, farm workers, their wives, children, and parents, black and white, were today twice as likely to be murdered than a police officer was and four times more likely to be murdered than the average South African.

"It seems to only be in the most isolated of our rural areas where attackers have the time to hone their craft, to boil their oil and heat the irons and to sharpen their machetes. Anyone who gives these brutal attacks any thought at all realises that the main difference between killing someone in town, or someone on a farm is the isolation," Kohler Barnard said.

The attackers had far more time, taking hours or even days, to torture the farm owners or workers, sometimes in the belief that there was a safe, or second safe filled with firearms and jewels.

Other times they killed the family and then took nothing at all, like they did last month in the Northern Cape. The Brand family died for nothing at all, she said.

"Of course, the criminal justice system's focus today is on the high-profile corruption cases – chasing the increasingly elusive Covid-19 millions, or the VBS looters. To date there has been little time, personnel, equipment, or political will to focus on the slaughter of the people who grow our food. The farming community has to date been patently irrelevant to the ANC-government.

"As this ridiculous, country-killing lockdown continues, so the attacks and the levels of violence have escalated dramatically. Complex rural safety mechanisms had been established, but were all shut down by [Police Minister] Bheki Cele at the advent of Covid-19," Kohler Barnard said.

Volunteer farmers with a zero budget worked all day and patrolled all night, and reported back to the police from areas the police did not have the manpower or vehicles to patrol. But Cele saw fit to shut them down, so the murders and rapes increased, and the looting of entire crops escalated. Because he did not look further ahead than his own nose.

"Indeed, while the ANC had their noses in the looting trough, behind them the people who feed our nation were living in terror. They are under siege," she said.

The DA was pleased that its 16-point programme was bearing fruit, that the SAPS were stepping up to do the job they were expected to do for all South Africans, and that slowly but surely, ANC members were at last beginning to understand that no South African deserved to die by torture.

"But it is now time for our president to also acknowledge the perpetual fear and danger that our rural communities live and work in. I therefore again call on all South Africans to visit the DA's websites at stopplaasaanvalle.co.za or stopfarmattacks.co.za and co-sign our open letter to President Ramaphosa, calling on him to address their plight," Kohler Barnard said.

African News Agency (ANA), editing by Jacques Keet

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