AfriForum proposed ten practical steps at a governmental workshop on rural and urban safety that will effectively combat the scourge of farm murders. Ernst Roets, Head of Policy and Action at AfriForum, participated virtually to present AfriForum’s perspective on and proposed solutions for rural safety and the issue of farm murders.
AfriForum’s presentation comprised an overview of the rural safety crisis and reasons why farm murders should be viewed as unique crimes, as well as the challenges that lead to conflict. The presentation also covered the issues of negative stereotyping of farmers and hate speech. Finally, AfriForum presented proposals for improving rural safety.
“Since 2012, AfriForum has been campaigning to have farm attacks and murders classified as priority crimes. It has also been an active player in the fight against farm attacks and murders since the organisation’s inception,” Roets says.
“AfriForum has reached out to government to present the facts on farm attacks and murders on a myriad of occasions before. However, we hope this presentation is the first of many more opportunities to bring our organisation’s detailed experience and research regarding rural safety to the table,” Roets concludes.
The ten steps proposed by AfriForum are:
- Recognise the severity of the crisis and release statistics on farm attacks and farm murders on a quarterly basis
- Continue independent research on the true extent of the crisis, the manifestation of these attacks and the efficacy of a range of counterstrategies
- Involve local communities through government-funded structures to fulfil the erstwhile role of the abandoned commando system
- Acknowledge farm attacks as a priority of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks)
- Partner with civil society to strengthen the SAPS’s response to farm attacks
- Revise the National Rural Safety Strategy to particularly provide for a focused reaction to farm attacks
- Establish specialist rural safety units
- Establish a holistic approach to farm attacks, as opposed to the exclusively localised focus in response to individual farm attacks, as if these constitute isolated events
- Provide comprehensive victim support throughout the entire process
- Adopt legislation in terms of which farm attacks are dealt with more comprehensively – this should include the criminalisation of hate speech in which violence towards farmers is encouraged or romanticised.