Alarming upward trend in farm attacks, violent crime in Eastern Cape

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

There is an alarming upward trend in farm attacks and violent crimes in the Eastern Cape, based on the latest quarterly crime statistics released today.

The fourth quarter crime statistics for the 2020/21 financial year, dealing with the period from January to March 2021, paint a bleak picture of rising violent crimes in the province.

Farm attacks have almost doubled, from 11 attacks between January and March 2020, to 21 attacks for the same period this year! This, combined with the high stock theft figures, have the potential to cripple the agricultural sector.

The red lights have been flashing for some time, and these latest figures highlight the vulnerability of the farming community.

I have constantly raised the issue of rural safety and have called for a rural safety summit in the Eastern Cape. If this trend continues throughout the year, it could have a catastrophic impact on rural safety and the viability of the agricultural sector in the province.

The staggering 21,5% increase in murder for the province, with 938 people killed in the three months under review, is a sign that violent crime in the Eastern Cape is not subsiding.

Also concerning is the number of truck and car hijackings and the spate of cash in transit robberies recorded. Truck hijackings were up 17,5%, to 47, car hijackings up 3,2% to 257 and 11 cash-in-transit heists took place in the three months under review.

These crimes directly impact the Eastern Cape’s economy and need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

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 and CCTV cameras, 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 real change if we are to keep the people of this province safe.