South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) and his deputy David Mabuza (R) react during a swearing in ceremony at Sefako Makgato Presidential Guesthouse on May 30, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP)

LUCAS LEDWABA

DEPUTY President David Mabuza is expected to address the issue of violent farm attacks in Parliament during the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land reform and Agriculture meeting on Friday.

Mabuza, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Committee will amongst others focus on the specific programmes aimed at curbing violent attacks on farmers, which has negative impact of food production and security.

 More than 100 farmers were dead this year alone.

The meeting comes just a day after a prominent KwaZulu-Natal farmer, Glen Rafferty, and his wife, Vida were brutally killed on their farm in Normandien on Saturday night.

Their dog was also killed

“The lives of farmers, farm workers and farm dwellers as well as every citizen of the country, black and white, matters, it is for this reason that government will continue to work with the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster to ensure prevention as a priority in dealing with farm murders,” said Mabuza.

He further called on the police to thoroughly investigate and bring perpetrators of such crimes to book.

The parliamentary debate on the scourge of murders on violent attacks and murders on the country’s farms exposed the political and racial divide that still plagues rural SA.

“The DA is part of this grouping of white racists who want to deflect our attention, and focus on narrow aspect of the problem of crime we have in this country, in order to serve their own right-wing aspirations,” EFF commissar Khosi Mkhonto caused a stir with this submission during the debate in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The debate around the issue degenerated into a racial altercation as the EFF’s Mkhonto went for the jugular, accusing the DA of pursuing a racial agenda.

“They [DA] were able to first crystalise the myth about whites being a superior race, and therefore, entitled to dispossess black people from their land, murder them, and make them slaves in their own land,” she said.

“Behind this myth, however, was an unrelenting agenda to justify their rapacious looting, their unquenchable thirst for the blood of African people, their obsessive preoccupation with dominating and oppressing black people.”

The issue has long been racialised largely because farm owners, the majority of whom are white and are accused of ‘terrorising’ and abusing their workers, who are overwhelmingly black through assaults, violation of basic and labour rights.

A March 2011 parliamentary committee hearing into the issue heard submissions from a research study on evictions showing that at least 1 million farm workers and farm dwellers had been evicted and displaced in the decade immediately following 1994.

Almost all of them were black.

Although an impression has taken root that farm attacks apply only to whites because they are the majority commercial farmers, this has been proven to be untrue.

The eMangweni community of KwaZulu Natal, for instance, has reported the killing of at least 34 black stock farmers this year alone.

The farmers point a finger at organised stock theft syndicates linked to the taxi industry.

In July, minister of police General Bheki Cele said stock theft recorded an increase in the past three years.

“Last year we made a commitment to deploy intervention measures in this regard which proved to be yielding positive results, hence Stock theft has recorded a decrease of 4.2,” Cele said while presenting quarterly crime statistics.

He argued for the deployment of more policing resources to be deployed to fight aggravated robberies must equally be channeled to address stock theft as this is regarded as a serious crime to rural economy.

Compounding the issue further is that murders on farms are not categorised as such but as general murder in policing terms.

Cele said contact crimes, particularly murder, recorded a trend of halving the case increases in the past three years.

But the DA and white farmer organisations argue that murders on farms are on the increase.

“The DA has been speaking out against farm attacks for over two decades, but it was as we watched the attack numbers rising during this country-killing lockdown, that we drew a line in the sand,” said DA MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard in a statement. 

“This was because the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, chose to forbid the patrolling systems the farm owners had set up over decades, in an attempt to keep their families safe. There have been 21 murders and 147 attacks in these past four months alone.  Our farmers are three times more likely to be murdered than a police officer,” Kohler-Barnard said.

The patrolling systems she refers to, known previously as the Commando system, were outlawed and disbanded in the 90s following a flood of cases of assault and murder of black people that appeared to be racially motivated.

 (COMPILED BY INSIDE POLITICS STAFF)

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