In a response to the escalation in farm related violence the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) has handed over a safety and security memorandum to the South African Police Services (SAPS) through an exclusive virtual event for its members.
The memorandum outlines the commitment by Kwanalu together with the rural and farming communities of KZN to the revised national rural safety strategy (NRSS) wherein communities and police are the key role players, explained Kwanalu president Phenias Gumede.
“We have been at the forefront of calling for stronger action, more manpower and resources and have acted proactively for quite some time around the issues which have recently escalated,” he said.
The NRSS is a partnership approach between farming and rural communities and the SAPS. The joint involvement will see the rolling out of awareness campaigns, simulation exercises, regular and frequent visits to farms as well as efficient mobilisation and support during rural and farm attacks to assist farming communities in the apprehension of offenders as quickly as possible.
“We want to clearly state our position on safety and security in farming and rural areas relating to the National Rural Safety Strategy, the foundation upon which our sector stands when it comes to safety and security. We now demand urgent and immediate attention and action on the agreed (strategy),” Gumede added.
Following the handover of the memorandum, Kwanalu spoke to safety and security industry role-players on rural and community safety, public prosecutions, stray cattle on public roads, fuel theft, stock theft and endangered species, hunting with dogs and land invasion issues.
Kwanalu CEO Sandy La Marque said, “We want to unify all farmers and rural landowners, their associations, commodity groups and all agri-business stakeholders within our province. One if the ways in which we achieve this is through engaging government and stakeholders, at all levels, to inform and influence meaningful change.
“We are very pleased with the outcome of the webinar and look forward to working even more closely with the SAPS on the NRSS.”
‘Minister, you are out of order’
Meanwhile Agri SA has condemned the remarks made by police minister Bheki Cele at a recent media briefing.
In an outburst, Cele had shouted at a farmer, Roland Collyer. The organisation has deemed the minister’s behaviour “derogatory and inappropriate”.
“There is no justification for such outbursts of anger or derogatory remarks. What was supposed to be a constructive dialogue between the agricultural community and the minister of police has now turned into a public spat,” said Tommie Esterhuyse, chair of Agri SA’s centre of excellence for rural safety.
“Government officials must always maintain the necessary respect and show empathy. If they fail to do so, it is contrary to the Constitution. This type of angry outburst undermines the government’s positive attitude towards farmers and workers,” he continued through a press release.
Agri SA said that it will bring the incident to the attention of Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene and assist in finding an amicable solution.