14 March 2017

South Africa: Why Does the Government Turn a Blind Eye to Farm Murders?

press release

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA's Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Anette Steyn MP, during the debate on farm murders.

We are today participating in a debate to discuss murder. Murder is the unlawful and intentional killing of another human being! South Africa has a shocking murder rate. During 2015/16, 18 673 murders were recorded, it is an average of 51.2 murders per day. We have become so accustomed to this that we don't even blink an eye anymore when someone is murdered.

Voorsitter, plaasmoorde le my na aan die hart. Ek is 'n gebore plaasmeisie en weet hoe dit voel om by die plaashek in te ry en te wonder of daar dalk onwelkome gaste op my wag. Ek weet hoe dit voel om in die nag wakker te word as ek vreemde geluide hoor en om dan stil in die donker op te staan en versigtig deur die huis te beweeg om seker te maak dat alles buite nog reg is. Ek vrees elke dag dat iemand na aan my en waarvoor ek lief is op 'n plaas vermoor kan word.

Wat ek nie weet nie, is hoe dit voel om te hoor dat een van jou geliefdes of werkers in 'n plaasmoord gesterf het. Terwyl moord in ons land buite beheer is, kan niemand hier vandag se dat hul nie bewus is van die gruwelmoorde wat op Suid Afrikaanse plase plaasvind nie.

Chairperson, we may disagree with the reasons for these murders, some may say it is because farmers mistreat their workers or because "they stole our land" but we have to agree that the torture of any person by another is inhumane and barbaric. This year alone we have seen more than 70 attacks resulting in at least 20 murders.

Let me tell you about three of these attacks:

- On 13 January this year, 69 year old Mrs Kidson was killed while recovering from a hip operation and sitting in a wheelchair. Mrs Kidson was repeatedly stabbed with a sharp object and then her throat was slit. Her husband was also found with his throat slit.

- Op 22 Februarie het Sue Howarth na twee dae in die intensiewesorg eenheid die stryd gewonne gegee. Sue het 'n gruweldood gesterf, haar liggaam was vol meswonde, haar borste was gebrand en haar oe was toegeswel. Net om seker te maak dat sy wel doodgaan het die aanvallers 'n swartsak in haar keel gedruk en haar toe ook nog in die kop geskiet.

- This past weekend the 62 year old Nicci Simpson was tied to a chair and tortured with an electrical drill, drilling holes in her feet, legs and knees. Her ribs were broken and she was stabbed multiple times. Luckily she survived this horrific attack.

How is it possible that even one person could get burned with hot water, an iron, dripping plastic, a blow torch, slaughtered like an animal and no-one says a word?

Why are we quiet when it comes to crimes affecting farming and rural communities, could I assume that we are quiet because these victims are farmers?

Hierdie aanvalle is nie slegs teen boere nie, plaaswerkers word ook hierdeur geraak. Inligting versamel deur Vrystaat Landbou wys dat daar reeds 12 aanvalle hierdie jaar in die Vrystaat plaasgevind het, in 7 gevalle was dit teen plaaswerkers gerig. Op Saterdag 11 Maart is twee werkers naby Kroonstad deur 10 rowers aangeval en aangerand.

Crime and violence is affecting and is dehumanising all people in farming and rural communities, irrespective of their race.

Why then does the government turn a blind eye to this? Why does the government refuse to take decisive action to protect its farming and rural communities?

Instead, what we have seen is political leaders using rhetoric that only serves to incite hate and more violence. The president sings "bring back my machine gun" while people are murdered by gangs using machine guns. Others tell their followers to invade land illegally, while singing "one settler, one bullet".

We cannot allow this to spiral into racial hatred and for us to divide our people along racial lines. We have to stand up and condemn all murders. It cannot be allowed that a person is tortured over two days and no one says a word. It cannot be allowed for a person to shoot someone and then say, "I thought it was a monkey".

We must take collective responsibility for our divided country by ensuring that all our citizens feel safe and secure.

Ek het die afgelope maand na Mpumalanga, KZN, Gauteng en die Vrystaat gereis om met boere oor landelike veiligheid te praat. Die Demokratiese Alliansie stel die volgende voor:

- Farm attacks must be classified as priority crime in order for more resources to be allocated to Rural Safety Units, currently SAPS is under-resourced and the rural safety Strategy is not properly implemented.

- It is important for attacks to be classified as a separate category of crime for statistical purposes going forward. This classification must include farmers, farmworkers and farm dwellers. It must be linked to specific research into safety and security in order to establish whether murder and attacks on farms are more violent in nature and what the reasons is for this.

- Crime intelligence must be involved in order to see if a link exists between farm attacks where criminals are looking for weapons and other syndicate related crimes in South Africa. Farm attacks are well planned and executed and cannot be purely seen as normal crime anymore.

- The reservist programme in rural areas must be properly implemented with a concerted effort to recruit and train farmers, farm workers and farm dwellers. The current requirements to become reservists is seen as a stumbling block.

- Trauma support must be offered to victims and their families in order to deal with this horrific reality.

Chairperson, this is a fundamental human rights issue and people living on farms must be treated equally in this regard. The ANC should not show less care to a particular group of people based on race.

Condemnation of attacks should come from government and stereotyping of farmers must stop.

The Democratic Alliance would like to offer its condolences to all people who have lost their lives in our violent South Africa.

Anette Steyn MP

DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

More on This

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