The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is pleased to have the support of the provincial South Africa Police Service (SAPS) in its campaign to declare farm murders a hate crime and a priority in the province.
The backing from SAPS was given during an Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) portfolio committee meeting, initiated by the DA, held earlier today.
The DA in KZN has been calling for a joint portfolio committee meeting with the province’s Departments of Agriculture and Community Safety for more than six months, in order to discuss the growing concerns around rural and farm safety. After a long postponement the meeting finally took place earlier today with the relevant MECs and representatives from SAPS, the Association for Rural Advancement Land Rights Advocacy (AFRA) and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
The DA believes that SAPS’ support on this issue will help to turn the tide against farm and rural crimes. We welcome SAPS’ admission that there is a major problem and that the DA’s campaign to bring focus on these terrible attacks is starting to yield results.
Today, SAPS agreed to three highly relevant points of the DA’s 16-point plan.
A hate crime is one that typically involves violence and is motivated by prejudice on the basis of a defined characteristic. Most hate crimes include crimes committed on the basis of race, colour, gender and religion. Many also include crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.
In the case of rural communities, the DA believes that farmers and farm workers are being targeted because of certain characteristics and motivations. These include their relative isolation and vulnerability, the distance to police and also the age of farmers and farm workers. In addition to this, there is clear evidence of politicians and popular figures inciting crimes against farming communities.
The DA will continue its fight for safer rural and farming communities by:
1. Calling for the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee on rural safety to advise the KZN cabinet
2. Advocating for the direct subsidisation of private rural safety initiatives such as farm watches and farm patrols
3. The provision of psychosocial support for farm workers who are victims of crime, in particular women and;
4. Requesting a Provincial Safety summit on Rural and farm Safety involving key stakeholders.
What is now required is the deployment of resources and the political will to bring about change. This means that DARD MEC Sithole-Moloi and her colleague MEC Ntuli must now action the steps outlined by all stakeholders by shifting of strategies, policies and funding of their respective Departments.
The DA will track this in all committees and ensure that the respective MECs put action to the resolutions placed before them at today’s joint committee meeting. Our rural communities are tired of talk – they want action.