Escalating farm attacks in Addo must be addressed

Issued by Bobby Stevenson, MPL
Shadow MEC for Safety and Security

The escalating farm attacks in the Addo policing area needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. This is a provincial hotspot with 14 of 74 farm attacks in the last year occurring in this area.

The red lights have been flashing for some time. Friday’s attack is condemned in the strongest terms.

The DA has received information that on Friday, 16 October 2020, at about 20:35, five people residing on the farm were attacked just outside Addo.

During the attack we are informed that shots were fired and two individuals were injured. Thankfully they were not killed.

DA Councillor, Latitia Erasmus, who is active in local safety structures was on the scene shortly after the attack and assisted SAPS and the farm watch.

Last month I raised my concerns with the high rate of farm attacks in the Addo area by way of a parliamentary question. I wanted to know what steps SAPS were taking to safeguard rural safety in this area.

In response to a parliamentary question, MEC Weziwe Tikana Gxothiwe, revealed that farm attacks in the area increased from nine in 2018/19 financial years, to 14 in 2019/20.

SEE: IPQ 28 question 663

This attack is another warning flag of the increasing violent crime in rural communities in the Eastern Cape, and once again highlights the urgent need for SAPS to ramp up their efforts to improve rural safety and safeguard vulnerable communities.

I will once again take up the plight of this area with the provincial commissioner’s office.

The SAPS need to pull out all stops to apprehend these criminals. It is unacceptable that no successful prosecutions have taken place for farm attacks in this area over the last two years, as confirmed by the MEC’s response.

The Democratic Alliance believes that some of the steps that can be taken to improve rural security are:

  • The introduction of specialized units dedicated to protecting rural communities;
  • Increase the research and statistical information on these crimes and make it available on an electronic dashboard;
  • Increase the investigative capacity of SAPS. This means the utilization of every available technology, such as drones, when tracking perpetrators;
  • The reclassification of farm attacks as priority crimes, which would result in an increase of resources made available to deal with them;
  • There should also be tax relief measures for those in rural areas, such as farmers, who have to pay for private security companies, as well as subsidies for farm patrollers, farm watchers, and companies providing security in rural communities;
  • We also need to increase the crime intelligence capacity for rural areas, and
  • Border security needs to be improved upon.

I reiterate my call for a rural safety summit for the Eastern Cape. We need to protect lives and livelihoods. This entails food security as well as tourism.

Note to Editors: You can download a soundclip in English from Bobby Stevenson, MPL.