The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, has warned that attacks on farms threaten food security, employment and the economy.
“Both farm workers and farm owners are of equal importance in the agricultural chain,” Mandela said.
He made the remarks following the recent attacks on four farms in Hartbeespoort in North West province.
In one incident, a woman and her children were held captive on a farm in Broederstroom. The attackers also fled with a family car and stolen valuables.
“Any type of violence against women and children is abhorred. We must ensure the reduction of crime against vulnerable groups,” Mandela said on Tuesday.
The committee condemned attacks on farm owners and farm workers, and called for increased police visibility in communities.
Mandela said Community Policing Forums and Community Safety Forums must be strengthened.
He also encouraged all communities to know their neighbours to create a non-racial and socially cohesive South Africa.
“We must, through our government’s approach to social compact, ensure that we all contribute meaningfully to the creation of peaceful and safer societies. We need to bring all the stakeholders and key role players on board in fighting the scourge of violent crimes,” Mandela said.
He said rural farmers, farm workers and farming communities are especially vulnerable, as they are isolated and far from essential services, including emergency medical care, fire and police services.
“The urban/rural divide bequeathed to us by the legacies of colonialism, apartheid and further compounded by the slow pace of rural transformation and rural economic development, is a cause for grave concern, and this bedevils our efforts to effectively wipe out crime. We must ensure that we take collective responsibility for the safety and the development of rural communities.
“The set-up of the district councils in rural areas must play a role in ensuring that people living in their areas take part in deciding solutions to their problems. Through the new district development model, we must further ensure the implementation of the National Rural Safety Strategy (NRSS),” Mandela said.
Mandela said the killing of farmers and farm workers has debilitating consequences.
“One of the key findings by Johan Burger, from the Institute for Security Studies, in research conducted in 2018 on ‘Violent Crime on Farms and Smallholdings’, is that farm attacks and farm murders have increased in line with the general upward trend in South Africa’s serious and violent crimes. These crimes have been found to share similarities with the trio crimes category of house robbery, business robbery and carjacking,” Mandela said.
He said the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development will work with the Portfolio Committee on Police to ensure that rural communities, inclusive of farming communities, get the required protection and services from the police.