Claim farm murders a priority, mere lip service – Pieter Groenewald

FF Plus leader says Fikile Mbalula's says he will not consider specialised units for rural safety

Farm murders a priority, mere lip service

11 October 2017

The police saying that farm murders are given priority is nothing more than lip service seeing as the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, is of the opinion that what the police is currently doing to protect farmers is adequate, says Dr Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus.

According to Dr Groenewald, the Minister’s response to a written parliamentary question is not only disappointing, but also a step in the wrong direction for rural safety.

The Minister will not consider specialised units for rural protection and simply builds on the existing Rural Safety Strategy, which has various shortcomings, especially with regard to the practical application thereof. There are currently about twenty police stations in rural areas that don’t even meet die minimum requirements for sector policing.

Dr Groenewald does, however, add that it is encouraging that the Minister has undertaken to increase the capacity at rural police stations and that there are indeed some steps being taken to increase safety in these areas.

These steps include, amongst others, the identification of hotspots (places with a higher incidence of attacks), the analysis of incidents in order to determine the trends and modus operandi, increased patrols, visits to farm owners etc.

He says that farmers have been complaining that the police no longer visit farms, an issue that was also raised at a discussion of rural safety at Aardklop.

In response to Dr Groenewald’s first question regarding the steps that will be taken in light of the wave of farm murders during August 2017 in which six people were killed in 23 farm attacks, the Minister said that the numbers cannot be confirmed and that the incidents are currently in the process of being verified.

Dr Groenewald says that the fact that the police still cannot confirm how may farm attacks and murders took place in August this year is unacceptable and in itself it is an indication that the police and the government are not taking farm attacks seriously.

It also points to the possibility that the police simply do not have the capacity to quickly analyse crime information in order to get preventative measures in place.

“I have a follow-up question for the Minister: what exactly is meant with ‘increased capacity at police stations’? We need to know so that it can be monitored to see if they are keeping to their commitments.

“The rest simply sounds like a rehash of the existing measures that are certainly not adequate,” says Dr Groenewald.

Issued by Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus Leader, 11 October 2017