The agricultural sector has condemned the murder of six police officers in the last ten days.
While police minister Bheki Cele called on officers to “use deadly force to defend” themselves against criminals, Agri SA described both farmers and the police as strategically important for South Africa.
“Agri SA strongly condemns all murders of South Africans, but especially the murder of farmers and police officers who must ensure that citizens have enough food to eat and can live in safety,” said Uys van der Westhuijzen.
He is the chairperson of the organisation’s centre of excellence for rural safety.
In the most recent attack, two on-duty Western Cape officers were shot, killed and robbed of their firearms.
This followed the recent announcement by Cele of the crime statistics for the third quarter of the 2020/21 financial year.
The statistics indicate, among others, an increase in farm murders in October to December last year. According to the statistics, five police officers were also murdered in the third quarter.
Maintaining law and order
“Both farmers and police officers are of strategic importance for the country, where farmers are responsible for food security and the police for maintaining law and order,” urged Van der Westhuijzen.
“For this reason, the murders of farmers and police officers are unacceptable and infringe upon the quality of life of members of these sectors.”
Agri SA said it is aware of the impact that murder has on families and communities and wishes to extend its condolences to the next of kin.
Besides the Western Cape police murders, the country is still reeling from shock after four officers were murdered in KwaZulu-Natal.
“South Africa cannot tolerate these brutal murders of its farmers and police officers,” said Van der Westhuijzen.
“Farmers and police officers are of strategic importance for the country and for maintaining national stability. We call on communities to share crime-related information with the police to enable them to take preventative action.”
Meanwhile Cele had a clear message for cop killers.
“Let me remind police officers that when they go out there to enforce law and order, the law is on your side to respond decisively when confronted by criminals and use deadly force to defend yourself,” he said.
The minister called for crimes committed against police to be punished more severely because “members in blue are national assets that must be protected at all costs.”