The Democratic Alliance (DA) released a statement on Monday 19 October claiming that the Free State farming community has been abandoned by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and have ultimately been left to fend for themselves. 

The party said that according to recent replies received to questions in the Free State Legislature, it is clear that the SAPS are failing to apprehend farm attackers, including those accused of murder. 

The latest reply provided by the MEC for Police, Roads and Transport Sam Mashinini, states that 90 farm attacks took place in the Free State in the thirty months from April 2018 to September 2020, which equates to an average of three farm attacks per month.

‘SHOCKING’ FIGURES REGARDING FREE STATE FARMING COMMUNITY 

During the same period, 36 murders or attempted murders were also recorded, whilst only 25 arrests were made. 

“The DA are concerned that there have only been six cases of successful convictions, with a further six cases having been withdrawn or closed, and a further three accused who were acquitted. Whilst there remain 21 cases currently before court or ready to proceed to trial, it is alarming to note that the SAPS in the Free State have 29 cases with no known suspect,” it said. 

“These shocking figures reveal the inability of the government to ensure rural safety and prevent the scourge of farm attacks. In 60% of cases over the past thirty months, including cases where murder and attempted murder are involved, the investigation appears to be stagnant, with no suspects or leads in 33% of farm attack cases,” it added. 

‘WILFUL NEGLECT’ 

The DA also said there have been serious allegations of SAPS officers colluding with stock theft syndicates, and a report compiled by farmers from the Paul Roux area was handed to the Minister of Police Bheki Cele. 

“It is believed that this report substantiates allegations and it is our opinion that there is a wilful neglect by the SAPS to investigate cases relating to various crimes of farms and smallholdings. In many instances suspects are involved in a variety of crimes on farms, even while on bail,” said Member of the official opposition in the Free State Legislature Leona Kleynhans. 

Further information obtained by the DA includes the fact that, although SAPS may apply to Interpol to have cases of stock theft and farm attacks investigated in Lesotho, no person has been extradited to South Africa to face trial. 

The response from Mashinini, states that: “In most cases stock theft suspects are trialled in Lesotho and the outcome of the cases is then provided to the SAPS for the finalisation of the case dockets. There has been no extradition thus far.”

‘SOUTH AFRICAN FARMERS BETRAYED BY ANC GOVERNMENT’ – KLEYNHANS

Kleynhans said South African farmers, have for many years, been betrayed by the ANC government who have a constitutional obligation to provide them with protection. 

“The DA have developed a comprehensive rural safety strategy and have also tabled a Private Members Bill in the Free State Legislature which would provide a policy and legislative framework for tackling rural safety in partnership with rural communities,” added Kleynhans. 

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Presh JM Reporter

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