‘Do something about farm attacks’
● 52 attacks in August ● Protests to raise awareness ● Calls to be classified priority crime ● Minister heeds call
POLICE Minister Bheki Cele heeded the growing call for improved policing of the country’s farming precincts when he announced a more “holistic” and improved rural safety strategy this week.
But the reforms would have provided cold comfort for the friends and family of a Northern Natal farming couple who were ambushed and shot dead outside their Normandien home, outside Newcastle, last Saturday.
The bullet-riddled bodies of Glen and Vida Rafferty, 63 and 60 respectively, along with one of their dogs, were found near the entrance of their home.
They were laid to rest yesterday. According to statistics released by the Rome Research Institute of South Africa, there were 52 farm attacks in August.
Of the 10 deaths recorded during this period, four were in KZN.
The statistics also revealed that four women were raped, including a mother and her and two daughters, aged 15 and 11.
Knives and guns were usually the weapons used, and in one attack, a gun was shoved into the mouth of a 99-yearold woman.
Many who knew the Rafferty couple were still mulling over what the killers’ intentions were as only their vehicle, which was later abandoned, was taken.
Their deaths ramped up calls from community leaders, rights groups and politicians who roundly condemned the country’s latest farm killings, with some calling for more prioritised police focus.
Yesterday, a convoy of hundreds of “concerned Newcastle citizens” went on a round-trip which looped through the city centre and around the Rafferty’s farm to pay respect to the couple and raise awareness about farm killings.
Bob Hoatson, who took part in the procession, said the initiative was not about white farmers: “It was for people from all walks of life who were concerned about farm murders,” said Hoatson.
Ironically, hours before the Rafferty couple were murdered, an estimated 40 000 bikers around the country called for an end to the carnage on farms.
Sporting white crosses, the East Coast Motorcycle Club revved their engines in support of the initiative on a ride from Queen Nandi Drive to Durban’s CBD and then to Amanzimtoti.
Pravesh Ramfol, president of the bike club, said given the rate at which farm murders accelerated, they felt it was appropriate to take a stand.
In a broadcast interview this week, ACDP leader Kenneth Moshoe called for farm murders to be classified as “priority crimes”.
Motivating his call, Moshoe said: “We need food to survive. Food producers help people from all walks of life.
“Therefore, when farmers and their workers are killed, the entire nation should scream.”
Afriforum chief executive Ernst Roets was reported to have said a “crisis situation” had been reached and farm attacks must be investigated by the Hawks and dealt with in a holistic manner.
Christopher Pappas, the DA’S spokesperson on agriculture and rural development, wrote to KZN Premier Sihle Sikalala saying families of all races and income groups were victims.
He asked that “decisive action” be taken before the situation deteriorated.
Pappas suggested 10 ways to alleviate the situation in his letter, including the creation of an interministerial task team and for the SAPS to ramp up intelligencedriven investigations in rural areas.
Zikalala condemned the farm killings, including last week’s double murders.
He called on the SAPS to act swiftly to bring the perpetrators to book and asked citizens to speak out against such criminal activities.
At a legislature sitting on Thursday, Zikalala confirmed that the provincial government would convene a multi-stakeholder meeting to address the issue of farm and rural safety.
Newcastle mayor Nthukuko Mahlaba described the killings as “gruesome atrocity” and said the deaths were a loss to the local community.
Cele visited Normandien on Wednesday and met with members of the Rafferty family and organised community policing and farming structures.
He assured them that there would be a shift in resources to identified areas to enhance safety.
Speaking about the Rafferty deaths, he said: “The report I received indicates that the investigators are following up on strong leads.
“Overall, the police have made significant progress in bringing those allegedly behind similar attacks around KZN northern farming areas to book since last year.
“Seven such attacks took place and police have made arrests in all the cases,” Cele said.
We need food to survive. Food producters help people from all walks of life. When farmers and their workers are killed, the entire nation should scream Kenneth Moshoe ACPD LEADER
Farm attacks continue to grow at an alarming rate. Some lived to tell of the pain and suffering they’ve endured at the hands of their attackers, while others were not as fortunate. Here are four tales.