“Agri SA welcomes debates on farm safety, such as the one that took place in Parliament yesterday, on condition that it will contribute constructively towards curbing farm violence. The discussions once again focused on the vulnerability of agricultural communities and the degree of violence to which they are exposed. However, Agri SA rejects with contempt the utterances made by some parliamentarians that farmers should be buried alive, as reported in the media. These statements are not conducive to nation-building but lead to polarisation of communities,” said Kobus Breytenbach, chairman of Agri SA’s Rural Safety Committee.
According to Breytenbach, it is now important that Parliament should, within the parliamentary system, create a climate of tolerance and facilitate an understanding on the part of the broader public that everyone involved in primary agriculture ought to be regarded as an asset for the country. Protecting the farming community will ensure a stable food supply for the population, which in turn is essential for stability within the country.
Parliament should support the police by allocating sufficient resources to rural police stations to enable them to roll out the Rural Safety Strategy and the Reservist system in full. These are comprehensive strategies that can make a significant contribution towards complementing the farming community’s existing security measures and making rural areas safer. It is also important that the police at station level effectively implement the well-developed policy and procedure to improve visible policing and bring stability to rural areas.
It is important to note that the government has already committed to prioritising the safety of rural areas, which include farming communities. The seriousness of the ongoing criminal onslaught in various forms on the rural community, as well as the high incidence of stock theft, has resulted in the implementation of the Rural Protection Strategy as a mechanism to reduce rural crime.
During the debate, Parliament also referred to the remoteness of the areas where the farming community live and work and the fact that they are long distances from service centres such as police stations, which is one of the reasons why this community is vulnerable to attacks.
This situation can be addressed if more resources are made available to the police to implement the Rural Safety Strategy.