While crime figures don’t show an increase in farm attacks during the lockdown, the police do indeed take farm safety seriously, Police Minister Bheki Cele told the Portfolio Committee on Police on Friday.
The police presented their adjusted budget to the committee on Friday, during which DA MP Andrew Whitfield and FF Plus MP Pieter Groenewald asked about farm murders.
Groenewald said there was a “huge increase in farm attacks” during the lockdown period. He said, on Wednesday, there had been 11 attacks in one day.
National police commissioner General Kehla Sitole said the visible policing division is getting an increase in its budget.”I want to confirm that, yes, rural safety is a priority for this budget increase,” he said.
Divisional commissioner for visible policing Lieutenant-General Moeketsi Sempe said they have compared the figures for farm attacks from January to March with those from April to June.
From January to March, there were 80 attacks, and from April to June there were 48.
However, Sempe said they are concerned about the slight increase in the murder rate, as the first quarter had six murders, and the second had 7.
Cele said: “We do take serious the issue of farm safety.”
He said they would continue to improve relationships with farming communities, and that such a relationship in Limpopo had recently delivered great success.”Once we work together, all crime will stop, including murders,” he said.
‘Call to arms’
On Wednesday this week AfriForum’s head of community safety Ian Cameron, who was speaking during a media briefing, said there was a serious increase in the frequency of farm attacks following the move to Level 3.
“It is time that we encourage our rural communities to fight back and arm themselves,” he said.
“Trusting in a president like Ramaphosa and a government like the ANC will simply mean more carnage,” he added.
Afriforum policy head Ernst Roets in turn said 40 farm attacks resulting in five murders had taken place during June 2020 alone with an additional four farm murders in July so far. He named each victim and case, including the recent killing of Julian Stobbs.
Also on Wednesday, a memorial service was held for Stobbs, better known as one half of the so-called Dagga Couple, at his home near Lanseria.
It is understood robbers entered the property and shot him in his bedroom on Friday last week, before making off with their cellphones and other property.
Pictures and mementos were left as a small tribute and there was a slow, constant flow of people from all races and creeds that came to give their respects to the man that was instrumental in the legalisation of cannabis in South Africa.
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