OPINION

Farmers ask for sober thinking – Agri SA

Organisation declines to take part in protest, as it might be politicised and not bring country closer to a solution

Farmers ask for sober thinking 

20 November 2017

South Africans are fed up with crime and this is becoming increasingly visible as communities rise up and participate in protest actions.

Dan Kriek, president of Agri SA, says that crime-fighting should be an inclusive process because it is a problem that affects all South Africans.

Kriek says Agri SA has been approached to participate in a protest march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Saturday, 25 November. Agri SA consulted its member organisations (including nine provincial and 25 commodity organisations and 21 corporate members) on this matter during an extensive consultation process. During a meeting of Agri SA’s rural safety committee on 13 November in Centurion, representatives of these member organisations urged Agri SA not to participate in the protest action.

Agri SA has approximately 28 500 farmers members and protects the interests of almost 800 000 farm workers. Without exception, representatives at the meeting decided that the time was not right to become involved in further protest actions, because the message that South Africans have had enough of crime has already been conveyed clearly to government on Black Monday. The feeling among our members is that the inclusive nature of Black Monday might now be politicised and that political undertones would not bring us closer to a solution.

“Food security is the outcome of a combined effort between commercial farmers, emerging farmers and farm workers and therefore it is important to find inclusive solutions to the crime problem,” says Kriek. “Our focus is now on working in a solution-driven manner. Now is the time for sober leadership and calmness. Civil society, including farmers and farmworkers, must join hands to expose crime at grassroots level within our own communities.”

“Farmers want to participate inclusively in the process of finding solutions to the massive crime problem and to bring home the message that they are dissatisfied with how crime is currently dealt with,” says Kriek.

“Agri SA strongly condemns all forms of farm violence and will continue to lobby the government to combat crime effectively,” he says. “We are working with the police to find solutions to effectively implement strategies and policies to improve rural safety. We regard this process, as well as the solutions it can offer, as a priority.”

Kriek says farmers are always thinking creatively about their own safety and are increasingly making use of technology to combat crime.

The Agri Securitas Trust Fund is the only – and unique – form of practical assistance to farming communities and has for years been involved in the funding of radio communication systems, cameras, drones and equipment used during security operations. Thousands of farmers and farm workers have already been assisted by the Agri Securitas Trust Fund within community context to improve their own safety.

Agri SA understands that farming communities are frustrated, but now is the time to stand together to combat this evil inclusively. Crime can divide us. We should rather use it as an opportunity to participate in discussions where everyone is involved.

Agri SA wishes to focus on giving practical assistance to all farmers and farm workers at grassroots level.  “Agri SA will continue to support farming communities and farm workers on a practical basis,” says Kriek.

Issued by Thea Liebenberg, Media Liaison Officer, Agri Sa, 20 November 2017