Port Elizabeth - Hundreds of farmers gathered at Cows Corner in Port Elizabeth on Monday to call on government to intervene and establish specialised units when it comes to farm murders across the country.
Several neighbourhood watch groups from Seaview, Lorrain and Colleen Glen among others joined in the #BlackMonday initiative which saw groups come together, dressed in black, to mourn farm murders and speak out against attacks affecting people living and working on farms.
Hundreds of men, women and youth converged in vehicles and even superbikes to raise awareness through a motorcade along the N2 highway.
Event organiser Willie Bosch, from the Farm Comm community watch dog group, said the convoy was to mourn all farmers, of all races, who had been murdered across the country in ongoing attacks.
Bosch said the convoy was neither a political nor a racial demonstration.
National crime statistics for 2016/2017 financial year indicate that 74 murders were reported to have taken place on farms, 27.5 percent up from the previous year, while 638 farm attacks were reported for the period which is up 22 percent from the previous year.
According to the figures, 19 016 murders were recorded in the 2016/2017 financial year.
In response to growing criticism and debate online where many are asking why should farm murders get special attention when murder on the whole is a crisis, Bosch argued that a special unit had been formed after rampant political killing in KwaZulu-Natal. "One could talk a lot that this is getting so much attention, but we can also reply and say that a special unit has been formed to look at political murders in KwaZulu-Natal. Maybe we should ask the question where are these special units to protect South Africa? You can't compare the amount of political murders in KwaZulu-Natal to what's happening in South Africa. So yes we want equal treatment," said Bosch.
Earlier this year, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula announced that a police task team consisting of members from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), Crime Intelligence and Special Investigative units were to probe political killings in KwaZulu-Natal.
Meanwhile, Addo farmer, Rudy Orban said that all violence was a serious issue, adding that farming communities were vulnerable and susceptible to violent attacks. Orban said in some instances politicians "incited violence" by making "racial comments" regarding land.
He called on government to draft a plan to address farm murders. "We want people to take notice, especially government. At the moment there is no real plan, there is no plan to implement or to curb violence and nothing is being done about it. The comments on violence from politicians is making it worse and nothing is done about that either. People are saying things to incite violence," said Orban.
Elands River farmer, Patsy Kree, said that when a farmer was murdered it had a spiral effect on farm workers and their families. "There will be so many farm labourers that will be unemployed because the wives or families sell those farms and they become unproductive. So it's not just the food, it is job opportunities on the whole that will be lost," she said.