On Sunday morning, 1 November 2020, during the Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Congress, delegates unanimously supported a policy resolution that farm attacks and murders be declared a hate crime and a priority crime category.
The Members of Parliament, Provincial Legislatures and Councillors who form part of the DA Workstream on Farm Attacks and Rural Safety are deeply pleased that the Federal Congress voted unanimously for this resolution to pass. The resolution seeks to ensure harsher sentences if prosecutors prove that the motive for the crime was hatred or contempt based on the victim's identity as a farmer or farm worker.
When first we spoke out about farm murders in 2006, the President, government and the ANC ignored these increasingly brutal attacks and continued to do so until we launched our 16-point targeted campaign 6 months ago.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) plans have failed black and white farmers, farm workers, their wives, children and parents who are four times more likely to be murdered than the average South African.
The situation on farms and rural communities again came to the spotlight when Police Minister, Bheki Cele, forbade all farm patrols during the lockdown. The nation watched in horror as farm attacks inevitably soared. Minister Cele does not care about rural lives as recently he was missing in action while three of our provinces were on fire, straight after the EFF called on its members to burn the farmers. It was again left to the DA to lay charges in this regard.
Our rural communities are under enormous threat. In the last 10 years some 612 of these farmers and farm workers have been murdered, with at least 2 818 recorded attacks - leaving many maimed, raped, crippled or blinded. Rural communities are vulnerable to the most heinous form of attacks. Due to the isolation of rural communities attackers have the time to hone their craft, boil their oil, heat the irons and sharpen their machetes, often leaving without taking anything at all.
In light of these atrocities, we thank the DA Federal Congress delegates for giving absolute support to this resolution, which not only seeks to declare farm attacks as a hate and priority crimes, but also seeks area specific rural safety plans to be drawn up for every rural police district in South Africa, and that at local station level, rural community policing units be established for every police station that serves at least one rural sector.
The DA has drawn a line in the sand, by supporting this resolution. We have reaffirmed our commitment to ensure that all South Africans are afforded equal protection and safety by government and SAPS as determined in our Constitution.
If you are in a position to help fund our Court Watching Briefs Unit which closely monitors every farm attack court case to ensure attackers end up behind bars, please make a donation here.