South African farmer organization AgriSA has urged more to be done to help stop violent crime against the country’s farmers, following the murder of a farmer earlier this week.
Stellenbosch-based wine grape farmer Joubert Conradie was shot in the early hours of Tuesday on his farm by unknown suspects, News24 reported.
On Thursday AgriSA said South Africa cannot afford further violence against farming communities, adding that farm attacks must be strongly condemned by all South Africans.
“We think of the thousands of fellow South Africans who have lost their lives during the past year as a result of violent crime, 52 murders a day! Many farmers and farm workers count among those who have paid the highest price,” said Agri SA president Dan Kriek.
AgriSA said 34,000 farmers were suffering the effects of drought, natural disasters and policy uncertainty, while also trying to protect their lives and produce food for 55 million South Africans.
All these factors can in time give rise to food shortages, accompanied by instability in the country, it said.
“It has long been time for the public and the government to take note of the brutality of farm attacks, as well as the onslaught aimed at members of the farming community,” the organization said.
“For this reason, Agri SA supports the awareness campaign that kicks off on Monday, 30 October 2017, with South Africans expressing their support by wearing black.”
Kriek said that as farmers were vulnerable it was important to be prepared at household level and through community involvement to curb the violence.
“One of the pillars for community participation in rural safety is the implementation of the Rural Safety Strategy,” he said.
“Becoming more proactive means that the individual and community must be ready and prepared for any event and this is only possible when farmers and farm workers are involved in the structures of organised agriculture,” said Kriek.
Within the Agri SA group, the Agri Securitas Trust Fund plays an important role in safeguarding farmers. In practice, the Trust Fund makes equipment such as communication networks, camera systems, crime-fighting equipment, etc. available to communities. This fund is also involved in providing trauma counselling where communities require it.
The Trust Fund is but one of the instruments used to protect farm communities and Agri SA will continue to play a lobbying role within government context to seek solutions in this regard.
Agri SA is also calling on the South African business community to support these initiatives and to become involved in the Agri SA group.
“I am fully aware of the emotional stress experienced within farming communities and that Agri SA and its provincial organisations will continue to seek solutions to stop the violent onslaught waged against our farming communities,” Kriek said.