The Democratic Alliance (DA) is deeply concerned by community reports of a farm attack in Bishopstowe, outside Pietermaritzburg, which took place yesterday.
According to residents, the attack on a farmer and his wife was thwarted after the man shot and killed one of the suspects. A second suspect is believed to be on the run.
It is clear that the deteriorating safety situation in KZN’s rural areas will only improve if there is a concerted effort from both the South African Police Service (SAPS) and communities.
From all accounts, the Bishopstowe community and security companies are going above and beyond what can be expected of them, using patrols and drones in a bid to find and apprehend the suspects involved in yesterday’s incident.
Regrettably though, the lacklustre response from SAPS leaves a lot to be desired. The DA does not believe that claims by officers from the Bishopstowe police station – that they do not have sufficient vehicles to deal with complaints – hold water.
This after a recent written parliamentary reply to questions submitted by the DA, in which the MEC for Community Safety and Liaison indicates that Bishopstowe is in fact one of the few rural police stations that has more vehicles than required.
Either the Bishopstowe police officers are not being honest, or the vehicles are not in working order or the allocation of vehicles required by the station is not accurate.
It is also clear that the training of officers is falling short if SAPS is refusing to open cases unless there are injuries. This is extremely short-sighted. If SAPS had acted and opened cases when previous attacks took place, they might have been able to prevent future incidents.
These are both matters which must be urgently addressed and the DA calls on both the MEC for Agriculture, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi and KZN’s new Community Safety and Liaison MEC, Peggy Nkonyeni, to immediately visit Bishopstowe SAPS to ascertain exactly what the situation is.
In the interim, the DA will next week meet with local community members in order to establish the situation on the ground for ourselves.
The general state of safety and security within KZN’s rural areas is of great concern to the DA. As a result, we are also in the process of planning a province-wide conference to include rural security companies, agricultural organisations and other key stakeholders in order to discuss the true situation and how we can best improve it.
All citizens of KZN deserve efficient, professional and dedicated policing. This includes our citizens living in rural areas, farmworkers, farmers and all rural communities. The community cannot and should not be doing this on their own, and it is time that SAPS come to the party.