While farm attacks and murders have already left a growing trail of blood on the South African landscape over decades and even foreign countries are increasingly taking notice of it, there are only more vague promises from the ANC government about action to prevent this.
That’s what Fanie du Toit, FF Plus board member in the National Council of Provinces (NRP), said after he adj.pres. Paul Mashatile pointed out in the NRP on Thursday that the organization Human Rights Watch mentions about the incidence of farm attacks since 1994 that there is a visible lack of government action on this.
According to Mashatile, he and Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa recently met with Bheki Cele, minister of police, about crime in the country and they requested him to focus on a number of issues, including farm attacks and murders.
“People often think we are only concerned about farmers. No, we are concerned about everyone who lives in those farm communities because these attacks and murders also affect ordinary people who work on those farms. They must be protected. So this is something the minister is working on.”
Mashatile said existing efforts to fight crime in urban areas should also be extended to the farming communities. “However, I can assure you that the farm communities have not been forgotten.”
Du Toit presented statistics from TLU to the deputy president according to which in January this year there were 18 attacks and two murders nationwide, in February 15 attacks and two murders, in March 17 attacks and four murders, in April 8 attacks and six murders, in May 9 attacks and two murders, in June 12 attacks and 10 murders and in July 15 attacks and four murders. Until August 26, there were 10 attacks and two murders.
“Moreover, these chilling figures, shocking as they are, do not tell the full story of the callous brutality that accompanies the attacks. People are brutally tortured for hours and burned with hot cooking oil and irons, among other things. That is part of the tragedy.”
The FF Plus wanted to know from the deputy president what action had been taken to prevent these attacks which also threaten food security.
“Adj. pres. Mashatile’s response to this was that the police had been told to focus on various types of crime such as illegal miners and farm attacks. As far as illegal miners are concerned, he said that ‘great action’ by the police has already begun and a special operation has already kicked off in Soweto to combat crime. He ‘believes’ the same will happen with farm attacks.”
According to Du Toit, Mashatile’s statements make it clear to the FF Plus that he is playing with words and that there is still no tangible plan to act effectively against farm killings. “There are just the usual vague undertakings and promises.
“This instills no confidence and the FF Plus therefore warns members of the public, especially as regards the rural community, to empower themselves and act proactively rather than being the next victim.
“After 30 years without any concrete plan to combat farm attacks, it is clear that the ANC is callous towards the farming community.”