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Agricultural unions have pleaded for urgent steps to be taken to address the scourge of violent farm attacks and murders following the killing of the Brand family.

AGRICULTURAL unions have pleaded for urgent steps to be taken to address the scourge of violent farm attacks and murders following the abduction and murder of the Brand family from their smallholding in Magogong near Hartswater.

AfriForum head of community development Johan Kruger stated that hundreds of community members and farmers from surrounding areas gathered outside the Hartswater Magistrate’s Court on Thursday to highlight the seriousness of farm attacks.

“Enough is enough. We cannot tolerate these cruel and senseless farm murders. Where is President Cyril Ramaphosa? We want him to visit Hartswater so that he can tell the community that these senseless farm murders are just ordinary crimes. Communities are at their wits’ end because they feel unsafe,” said Kruger.

He pointed out that this incident was a wake-up call for all landowners to join local safety structures and to remain on the alert at all times.

“The local AfriForum neighbourhood watch, along with the local community safety forum and local agricultural forums, assisted the police in searching for the accused. Our trauma support unit from AfriForum provided counselling for the victims of the family and neighbours.”

Kruger stated that there have been 186 farm attacks and 29 farm murders in the country so far this year.

“In July alone there were 39 farm attacks and nine farm murders.”

Agri-Noord-Kaap business manager Dirk Krapohl expressed concern over rising crime that targeted the agricultural sector and its citizens.

“We trust that justice will be served regarding the robbery, kidnapping and murder of the Brand family. Everything possible must be done to secure the safety of the general community and affected family. The accused must not be granted bail and they must face the harshest sentence possible and not be considered for parole, if found guilty of the crimes,” said Krapohl.

Meanwhile, the Northern Cape MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, Nomandla Bloem, has added her voice to the condemnation of the brutal attack and murders.

Bloem pointed out that the farming community played a vital role in the economy of the country.

“We must understand and affirm the life-giving role our farming community plays in the growing of our economy, not only in providing employment opportunities but also in providing food security during this time of lockdown. We need to do our best to strengthen our rural safety strategies to expose these dreadful crimes and bring perpetrators to book,” said Bloem.

She applauded law enforcement for swiftly apprehending the suspects and urged that the matter be finalised speedily.

“We are proud of the work done by the multidisciplinary teams, including local stakeholders and the community safety forum, which ensured that the bodies of the deceased were found and the five alleged perpetrators were apprehended swiftly.

“Operations involved the activation of the police’s 72-hour activation plan, which included the deployment of crime intelligence, forensic experts, detective services and other supporting units. I do believe that the power of our efforts is found in our ability to reach out to each other, strengthen the gathering of intelligence and assist the concerted efforts by the police in reaching community and rural safety goals.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of the deceased. As the accused remain in custody, we are confident that the law will take its course and justice will be done,” said Bloem.