The Democratic Alliance has urged KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala and his government to take rural and farm safety more seriously following the murder of two more people on a farm in the province this weekend.
The DA in KwaZulu-Natal is dismayed and horrified by reports of a double murder on a farm murder near Normandien in the Battlefields area of the province, KwaZulu-Natal DA MPL and spokesperson on agriculture Chris Pappas said in a statement on Sunday.
“The couple was found murdered on their farm earlier this morning [Sunday] in what is an ongoing spate of attacks on farmers and rural communities in South Africa. According to reports, the suspects fled in a Pajero which was later found abandoned. No arrests had been made by the time of writing,” he said.
The DA extended its deepest sympathies to the family of those who lost their lives under such shocking circumstances.
This latest murder came just two days after the province’s agriculture and rural development portfolio committee should have met to make recommendations and resolutions on issues affecting the safety of farmers, farm workers, and rural communities. Unfortunately, the meeting was postponed in what had become a drawn out process that started in January 2020, Pappas said.
On the table for discussion were important recommendations made by the DA and supported by the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the province. These included:
– declaring farm attacks/murders hate crimes or priority crimes due to their brutal nature;
– establishing an inter-ministerial task team to report to the premier on rural safety;
– calling a rural safety summit where experts could advise government on practical steps to make rural areas safer;
– directly subsidising farm patrols, farm watches, and private security initiatives; and
– making better use of technology such as licence plate recognition, drones, and CCTV in the fight against crime.
“Sadly, South Africans have become all too accustomed to the ANC-led government paying lip service when it comes to many of the challenges that our people face. Certainly, rural safety is one of these issues and our communities are increasingly being forced to take their safety into their own hands. This, while ANC leaders fight over Covid-19 tenders and jostle for power in an organisation that has repeatedly admitted that South Africans are not their priority,” Pappas said.
The DA would write directly to Zikalala regarding this latest attack and on the recommendations outlined. This after the poor response from both his MECs for agriculture and community safety to date.
Despite the ANC’s “uncaring” stance on the matter, the DA had recently secured a victory in the National Assembly, where a debate of national importance on farm attacks and murders across the nation would be held on Tuesday. This followed ongoing pressure from the DA and after a shocking rise in the number of reported incidents this year, which had been particularly brutal in nature.
It was critical that Parliament use its platform to highlight the dangers of living and working in rural communities, and the DA in KwaZulu-Natal would “demand that the provincial government look at rural and farm safety more seriously”. Failure by government to address the problem would result in communities mobilising to ensure the safety of their neighbours and loved ones, Pappas said.