The DA is hammering away at lobbying the government to have farm murders declared as hate crimes.
DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard has requested a parliamentary debate on the scourge of farm attacks and murders across the country.
She was in conversation with DA interim leader John Steenhuisen on the party’s twice-weekly broadcast, called Coronacast, streamed on the party’s Facebook page.
“There has been a significant upsurge in the number of reported incidents of farm attacks since the start of the lockdown. These attacks have been particularly heinous in nature, with brutal torture being commonplace in rural attacks.
“Despite the ANC’s denialist stance, South Africa’s agriculture sector continues to be threatened by this volatile security situation, with the total costs related to agricultural crime in 2019 estimated at R10 billion, and a further economic output loss to the South African economy of R20 billion,” Kohler Barnard said.
On why farm murders should be declared hate crimes, Kohler Barnard said it was not only the attacks, but also about those, on social media and other platforms, calling for more farmers to be killed.
“We are also looking at more research in this matter. Why is it being done? Is it hatred, greed or is it mainly foreigners coming in from countries, who are mainly starving and looking for something to sell? But that does not explain the violence… Frequently, we are told by various agricultural unions that, in the attacks, nothing is taken. The families are brutalised and they simply leave,” she said.
The DA will again ask SAPS to recategorise rural attacks as priority crimes.
“These attacks have many similarities to house robbery, business robbery and car hijacking, which are treated as priority crimes and, as a result, SAPS has set up specialist task teams that specialise in investigating and resolving the said crimes.
“Thus, farm attacks, which share similarities with the crimes of house robbery, business robbery and carjacking, should also be regarded as priority crimes,” she said.
Kohler Barnard said farm attacks and farm murders should be treated as a separate crime category, which requires a particular solution.
“Certainly, the link between cross-border crime syndicates and farm attacks must be investigated. There should be a dedicated strategy for farm attacks and farm murders that target the criminal groups responsible – similar to the way in which the trio crimes [house robbery, business robbery and carjacking] are managed.
“This strategy should be used to protect farming communities (all people on farms and smallholdings), and to track down the perpetrators,” she said.
The DA will also ask for investigative capacity at rural SAPS stations to be increased, to ensure that attackers are apprehended.
“We will ask for increased police presence, and the utilisation of every available technology when tracking perpetrators. If K9 units are not available, drones should be,” Kohler Barnard said.