KZN premier to address rise in farm killings with Newcastle farming community

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala. Picture: Twitter / @kzngov

Sihle Zikalala’s office says his visit follows the recent brutal murder of farming couple Glen and Vida Rafferty.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala will on Saturday engage with the farming community in Newcastle on farming killings following the recent brutal murder of farming couple Glen and Vida Rafferty.

The couple was murdered at their farm in the Normandien area as they returned home.

Zikalala, who will be accompanied by agriculture and rural development MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi and other senior government officials, will engage the farming community in the area on the rise of farm killings in the province.

The engagement between the premier, government officials, farmers, farmworkers and farm dwellers will deal with various issues around the safety of the farming community in the area.

The premier’s office said Glen and Vida Rafferty’s recent “brutal killing” sent “shockwaves throughout the province” and “laid bare the menacing and festering tensions constantly engulfing the farming communities in the area and other areas in the province”.

“About three years ago, the Normandien area came under the spotlight when tensions between farmworkers and farm owner, Lawrence Hoatson, reached boiling point.

“This escalation resulted in four of the farmworkers shot and injured while protesting at his farm gate. The tensions were further aggravated when Hoatson impounded a herd of 300 cattle belonging to the local community under the charge of overgrazing.

“Tensions in farming communities are, however, not limited to Normandien but constantly erupt in different areas of the province.

“They are indicative of deep-seated anger between farmers, farmworkers and farm dwellers within farming communities.

“It is against this backdrop that Premier Zikalala and MEC Sithole-Moloi will be engaging with the farming community in a bid to seek solutions to their concerns and challenges,” a statement by Zikalala’s office reads.

The office said the KZN government is “seriously concerned” about farm killings and that the engagement on Saturday will also “seek to promote unity and cohesion and encourage collaborative work between farmers and farmworkers”.

The engagement will be held at the Newcastle Farmers Hall on Saturday at 8.30am.

Meanwhile, following the announcement of the 2019/2020 crime statistics by Police Minister Bheki Cele in July, AgriSA said it was “disturbing that, according to the police, 49 farm murders were committed during” that period.

“This is 49 murders too many and has deprived the country of strategic skills in the agricultural sector and robbed it of the expertise that is so sorely needed to contribute towards economic growth and food security,” the organisation said at the time.

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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