Debbie Els from the Stop Farm Murders/Attacks Movement said farmers were soft targets due to remoteness and lack of protection from the state.
Cape Town – Hundreds of members from the Stop Farm Murders/Attacks Movement gathered outside Parliament at the weekend in leather jackets carrying placards reading “Stop farm killings” and “No farms, no food”, while some revved their bikes, spinning around in protest against farm murders.
Debbie Els from the Stop Farm Murders/Attacks Movement said they wanted farmers, employees and farms to be treated as a national key point.
Els said it was an abomination that farm attacks and murders were blatantly ignored, denied and not stopped by the president “who internationally lies, stating that there were no farm killings and attacks in South Africa”.
She said without farmers, the country would face hunger and the high cost of imports.
“Most of the farmers are not in town and not surrounded with security clusters as we have in town, yet they are left on their own accord to look out and fend for themselves,” said Els.
“When they or their workers are attacked or killed, the effect is even worse as it threatens not only our food chain but all the other role-players affected by the production of the farmers or farms which might just not be rendered anymore.”
She said farmers were soft targets due to remoteness and lack of protection from the state.
“Farms should be declared a national key point and be protected like any other national key point.”
Vanessa Minnie and her son, Nicholas, said they were not farmers but “needed to support our farmers and save their lives”.
Minnie said the government needed to acknowledge that there was a problem and have forums in place to deal with the issues. “Farmers are in desperate need of security,” she said.
Agri Western Cape chief executive Jannie Strydom said farm attacks and farm murders had been relatively unknown in the Western Cape compared to the rest of the country, but over the past few years “we have seen more violent crimes on farms in the province that affects farmers and farm workers”.
Strydom said agriculture was the cornerstone of the province’s economy and more so in the economy of the rural areas, therefore the safety of everyone on the farm was crucial.
“Farmers and farm workers need a safe environment to ensure the country’s food supply,” Strydom said. Farming had become high-risk work in the country, and food security and rural safety go hand in hand, “when the one is threatened, so is the other”.
Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz called on farm watches operating in rural and peri-urban communities to approach the Department of Community Safety to become an accredited Neighbourhood Watch (NHW).