The following speech was delivered during the Democratic Alliance (DA) Debate of National Importance on the Recent Scourge of Farm Attacks and Murders in Parliament. Please find attached a soundbite by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP.
When our nation took that determined step into the future by building a new democracy here on the southern-most tip of Africa, the great minds of that time carved out a Constitution that protected us all. Each and every one of us. Guaranteed. It demanded schooling – for us all. It demanded healthcare – for us all, and it demanded safety – for us all. Not for just for some of us, for all of us. With no exception.
We are speaking here today in the Democratic Alliance (DA) Debate of National Importance focussing on the recent scourge of farm attacks and murders of farmers and farmworkers.
Why? Because there is no other industry that touches the lives and the tables of each and every South African. Agriculture is one of our greatest employers, one of the sectors most likely to drive back poverty, indeed is one of the great engines of our very economy. Agriculture-related businesses have work-streams leading to and from each farm, and employ hundreds of thousands of us.
Agriculture is a major pillar of our economy – with the added bonus of a strong global consumer base pulling in much-needed foreign exchange.
That being said, it was in 2011 that the South Gauteng Division of the High Court bizarrely found itself having to rule that singing a song that called for the slaughter of this section of our population, our farmers, was hate speech and illegal. Sadly it is still used with impunity by some in this country, who try to score political capital by fuelling hatred and the call for blood.
Well there are repercussions when one calls for violence. On Sunday morning I was woken to hear of the latest farm murders … of well-known KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) farmer Glen Rafferty and his wife Vida. Shot dead when they arrived back home after visiting friends.
Their faithful dog was also shot and lay next to their bodies. This while tens of thousands of bikers rode all around the country in protest against farm murders.
On social media I saw comments relating to their murders, “Good” said one, and “Good, but I feel sorry for the dog” by another. “Land thieves got what’s coming”.
Well, the DA has been reporting to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) the vicious and hate-filled social media posts which congratulate the murderers every time they kill a farmer or farmworker.
That is what the hate-filled narrative pumped out over the past two decades has engendered in the children of our country. Those who make such comments are now being taken to court.
So “Commissar Ngubane”, “P Phoenix”, Lungisani Simayile – expect a visit. Take note of what my colleague the Honourable Thandeka Mbambama says in her speech a bit later on.
The DA has been speaking out against farm attacks for over two decades, but it was as we watched the attack numbers rising during this country-killing lockdown, that we drew a line in the sand. This was because the Police Minister, Bekhi Cele, chose to forbid the patrolling systems the farm owners had set up over decades, in an attempt to keep their families safe. There have been 21 murders and 147 attacks in these past four months alone. Our farmers are three times more likely to be murdered than a police officer.
We released a 16 point plan of action in June, and just weeks later there was a triple homicide in the Northern Cape. For the first time anyone could recall we saw a Rolls Royce operation from the SAPS, helicopters, dog units – Crime Intelligence – it was all brought in to apprehend the perpetrators. And they did. It’s just a crying shame for the Brand family that they didn’t use that drive, that equipment, and that manpower to prevent the deadly attack before it happened.
The men and women who feed South Africa don’t sleep. They do nightly patrols around their farms, and I know of wives who watch their husbands on cameras as they do their patrols in the dark. Watching for attackers, waiting to see if tonight is the night their beloved husband will be killed. Unless they farm in Lekwa, Mpumalanga, where the electricity is cut week after week so the farmers live in total terrifying darkness as animals die of cold and everything rots in their fridges. They live the reality that it is four times more dangerous to be on a farm, than in any other area of South Africa.
It was a massive slap in the face of our farmers when the current President denied that these murders were taking place. On 26 September 2018 he spoke in New York, saying that there were “no killings of farmers…in South Africa”. Yet in 2017 and 2018 combined there were 136 murders on farms.
Farmers (black and white), farmworkers (black and white), and visitors to farms (black and white) were being killed then, and are still being killed today. What he said then was false. A complete and utter fabrication.
In a matter of weeks a petition asking the President to retract his hurtful words has hit some 42 000 signatures.
Farmers and farmworkers in South Africa, instead of being supported as VIPs within a valued Strategic Asset, feel they have become persona non grata. The Police Rural Safety Plan is pulled out, reworked, and relaunched regularly. Rinse, whitewash, repeat. Without equipment and manpower, the rural stations have zero ability to lift those fine-sounding words off the page.
My colleague Honourable General Okkie Terblanche, a real General who left the SAPS with full honours, will go into this later on.
Today countries around the world are eyeing our farmers with an acquisitive gleam in their eye – 2 000 of them left to farm in the USA over the past three months; our farmers have turned Zambia into one of the top food exporters on the continent – and where are we?
From 120 000 commercial farmers, we are down to 38 000.
Why? Because when a farmer is dragged to his death behind his bakkie – his family just packs up and leaves.
When a woman is gang-raped while her husband is stabbed to death – that is what happened to a black farmer and his wife – do you think she has it within her to stay on that farm?
But people are killed elsewhere I hear. Of course, they are…nearly 59 of us daily.
It is the isolation in rural areas that gives criminals days and nights to torture a family to death. Do you think there is anything a parent won’t offer up if his two-year-old is held down and raped in front of him? I have heard about medieval tortures involving boiling oil, boiling water, a power drill, red hot irons, fire. And these days the perpetrators frequently steal nothing. Not even a cellphone. We need research to tell us why.
What we do know is that we need more than the most expensive Washing Line in the world to prevent those who may seek to cross our borders illegally with the intention to commit crimes. Let us be very clear, we are not blaming all crime on foreign nationals.
Our Provincial Court Watching Briefs today ensure we are on top of every farm attack, and at every court hearing.
But we need a joint-summit to work through the myriad rural security threats. We need clear short- and medium-term solutions, and the political will and drive to ensure their implementation. We need a long term solution for an issue that looks set to drive our country to the brink of starvation.
It is quite possible that as I’ve been speaking another woman or child has been screaming on a farm in our country – and it is possible that there are those around us who will glory in their eventual deaths.
This hatred, these murders, must stop. We must make them stop.
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