Cape Times

Rural safety policing strategy needed, says DA after farm killings

- African News Agency

JOHANNESBU­RG: South Africa is in urgent need of a rural safety policing strategy and a specialise­d rural safety unit in the South SAPS needs to be re-establishe­d, the DA said yesterday.

“The DA is shocked and saddened by yet another brutal farm attack,” spokespers­on Annette Steyn said.

On Friday Hannes Kidson and his wife Ester, both 69, were brutally murdered on their farm Oortjies between Jachtfonte­in and Westonaria.

Ester Kidson, who recently had a hip replacemen­t and was in a wheelchair, had her throat slit. Hannes Kidson was found dead in his work shed, also with his throat cut.

“The DA extends its condolence­s to the family, friends, and loved ones of Mr and Mrs Kidson. You are in our thoughts during this most difficult time,” Steyn said.

It was clear that South Africans living in rural areas, farmers and farm workers alike, were facing extreme danger.

In a parliament­ary reply, the SAPS noted 49 farm murders had been recorded in the past year. The number of murders, according to the Transvaal Agricultur­al Union, was as high as 72 during this period.

“South Africa is in urgent need of a rural safety policing strategy that finally takes this reality into considerat­ion. The DA has repeatedly called for the re-establishm­ent of a specialise­d rural safety unit in the SAPS so that this can finally happen – to no avail.”

This need was confirmed by a report by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) released in October 2015. The report found that: l Law-enforcemen­t agencies such as the SAPS and the National Prosecutin­g Authority should step up their involvemen­t in combating crimes against farming communitie­s. l The SAPS should submit periodic progress reports on crime in farming communitie­s to the SAHRC. l The Department of Rural Developmen­t and Land Reform should provide a policy brief on the current status of land tenure in the farming communitie­s and establish the standard of housing delivered to farm workers and dwellers.

This standard needed to be guided by the principles of dignity, as well as: l The Department of Justice and Constituti­onal Developmen­t should include farming communitie­s in the Promotion of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups programme.

The DA would again request that this report be tabled in Parliament for scrutiny by the police portfolio committee, as it was the best way to ensure that every proposal made in the report was checked against the government’s response since 2015.

“Violent crime across South Africa needs to be tackled head-on so that every person can live in peace and be safe in the knowledge that the government is doing everything possible to ensure their safety,” Steyn said.

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