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Kwanalu

The voice of agriculture . Die stem van landbou . Izwe lezokulima

Minister Cele must fast-track Rural Safety Summit interventions to combat rising farm attacks

11 October 2022

Agri SA is deeply concerned about the spike in violent farm attacks in recent months. While violent crime appears to be on the rise across the board, we have noted a particularly concerning increase in farm attacks, leaving farmers and farm workers living in fear.

Coming after the Rural Safety Summit, held in June 2022, this trend points to the urgent need for the implementation of the Rural Safety Strategy and the resolutions adopted at the summit.

A key outcome of the Rural Safety Summit was the formation of an integrated task team to address priorities in rural safety. This team has identified key interventions that must be prioritised to increase rural safety. The tabling of these interventions for adoption by the Cabinet is long overdue, and Agri SA calls on Minister of Police Bheki Cele to fast-track this process in order to address rural safety now.

Violent crime has been in the spotlight recently, including the murder of a German tourist in Mpumalanga. That province in particular has seen a disproportionate increase in violent farm attacks including the brutal attack on a macadamia farmer with a panga on his property. The upward trend in these attacks has been evident for months now, and urgent action is required.

“We cannot allow unchecked violence to continue to threaten the lives of members of South African farming communities, nor can a generalised climate of lawlessness be allowed to jeopardise rural livelihoods and local food production. It is unfortunate that the Minister of Police failed to address rural safety in his budget speech earlier this year. Farming communities now bear the consequences of this lack of emphasis on rural safety. The government needs to take immediate steps to address this surge in violence as South Africa’s local food production and food security hang in the balance,” says Uys van der Westhuijzen chair of Agri SA Centre of Excellence Rural Safety.

“The National Development Plan places a premium on agricultural development and job creation, which in turn ties in with the sector’s responsibility to produce sufficient and affordable food. But South Africa’s capacity to produce food locally should never be taken for granted. It is fragile and dependent on the creation of safe and stable farming communities. This imperative will underpin Agri SA’s Congress later this week where the sector’s stakeholders, including government, will come together under the theme ‘Growing Local’ to tackle the challenges facing the nation’s agricultural sector” said Christo van der Rheede, Agri SA Executive Director.

Small-scale and commercial farmers alongside farm workers must be recognised and protected as a crucial asset for the country, and enhancing their safety through the effective implementation of the National Rural Safety Strategy should be a matter of national interest and urgency.

“Given the known shortcomings of policing in farming communities, we urge farming communities to take additional safety measures. Communities need to be alert and to step up their security. Despite the inefficiencies in the system, report all suspicious-looking people, activities and crimes to your nearest police station. It is essential to maintain good communication with the local police”, said van der Westhuijzen.

Enquiries:

Christo van der Rheede

Executive Director

Kobus Visser

Director: Agri SA Rural Safety & Provincial Affairs

Uys van der Westhuijzen

Chair of Agri SA’s Centre of Excellence: Rural Safety