The second attack on farmers in the Hankey area in as many weeks should be sounding alarms, and police should be pulling out all stops to bring these assailants to justice.
The first attack saw A 72-year-old farmer shot in the leg during a shoot-out with attackers on his smallholding on Wednesday last week [11 August 2021]. The assailants fled the scene and no arrests have been made.
Last night a second attack occurred, with an elderly couple overwhelmed on their farm by at least five heavily armed intruders, who then made off with firearms and other valuables.
The red lights have been flashing for some time, and these latest attacks highlight the vulnerability of our 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, it could have a catastrophic impact on rural safety and the viability of the agricultural sector in the province.
The SAPS need to pull out all stops to apprehend these criminals. 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.
We need to end this war on our farmers in this province if we are to ensure our food security