“Our goal should not only be to arrest murderers, but we also need to ensure that people are not dying in our farming communities,” said police minister Bheki Cele addressing farmers and agriculture unions in Bethlehem in the Free State today.
During the rural safety imbizo, following a meeting between government and farmers in October last month, Cele gave feedback on some of the policing and safety concerns raised by farming communities in the province.
Cele also tackled members of the police implicated in stock theft cases. He said, “There is no way that we can go as if nothing happened. The involvement of police in criminal activities must be investigated and properly reported back.”
The minister warned that criminals within SAPS will not be tolerated. He said, however, that while the Free State appears to be a prime target for farm related crimes, the police alone cannot solve it.
“This matter cannot be a police matter alone. As such, the justice, crime prevention and security cluster (JCPS) will come on board to enhance Free State structures.”
The minister acknowledged that foreign nationals seemed to be responsible for much of the crime in the Free State. “One thing that I have noticed is that there is an increasing number in foreign nationals being arrested for the murders in our farming community. Not only people from Lesotho, but also Zimbabweans and Mozambicans.”
“Farmers, but also the public as a whole, are no longer prepared to allow the lawlessness.”
Voicing his disapproval over the worrisome crime figures to be released tomorrow Cele said, “I saw the stock theft figures. It’s hell. This is economic sabotage and an economic crime. It cannot be an ordinary petty crime.”
Between January to August 2019, 4 227 livestock were stolen and only 757 of them were recovered. Stock not recovered totalled to 3 468 with an estimated value of R14 million.
“We are asking agriculture to tighten up the movement of stock as well. There must be stricter (controlled) movements of animals. Proper proof must be provided by animal transporters that they own the livestock. We also have to tighten the laws of abattoirs.”
Henneman farm murder protest scheduled
Meanwhile Free State Agriculture (FSA) is planning another farm murder protest in Henneman, about 80km from Senekal where the last protest was staged.
This follows the killing of yet another farmer, Pieter Hills and his son Eddie as well as an attack on the Regal family in Odendaalsrus. In this attack farmer Mark Regal was fatally wounded.
FSA president Francois Wilken said the courts must take note of the public’s anger and frustration with murders in the rural areas. “The court must take us into account when considering bail for accused people who commit crimes in rural areas, specifically farm murders. The crime onslaught on the agricultural sector and in our country continues unabated and this is unacceptable. Farmers, but also the public as a whole, are no longer prepared to allow the lawlessness.”
The Henneman protest is scheduled for Monday, 16 November.