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Farm attacks threaten agricultural sector

Following the recent killing of famer, Stefan Smit on the Louiesenhof Wine Estate at Stellenbosch, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer met with various role players to come up with solutions to farm attacks that are threatening South Africa’s food security.

Meyer met with the Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz and the Executive Mayor of Stellenbosch Municipality, Gesie Deventer together with other role-players such as Agri Western Cape, the Stellenbosch Landbou Genootskap and the Deveon Valley Farmer’s Association.

“An attack on a farmer or an agri worker is an attack on our rural economy and we must put a stop to this.  We must defend our rural economy against crime and lawlessness”: says Meyer.

Calling for the establishment of specialised SAPS rural safety units, the creation of a rural intelligence centre and engaging the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to prioritize serious cases of criminality. The following was resolved:

– A meeting will be convened by the Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde on this coming Thursday with the executive of Agri Western Cape.

– Rural safety will be placed at the top of the agenda of all future Provincial Joints Safety Meetings which will also be attended by Ministers Meyer and Fritz.

– A meeting will be set up with Adv. Rodney de Kock, Western Cape Head of the NPA.

– The Western Cape Government will work with other role players to petition against bail for those arrested for killings within the farming community.

– The Rural Safety Priority Inter Ministerial Committee to be established by July 2019.

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– The introduction of provincial watching briefs for rural/ farm killing to be introduced with immediate effect.

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Ministers Meyer and Fritz as well as the mayor expressed their deep concern for the recent increase in farm killings in the Western Cape.

The Ministers stressed further that these attacks threaten the Western Cape agricultural sector.

Minister Meyer said, “My most sincere condolences to the farming community. We have to make sure that this stops immediately.”

According to Minister Meyer, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries represents 3,9% of the Provincial GDP and agri processing a further 6,4%.  Combined it amounts to 10,3% of Provincial GDP.  Approximately 45% of South Africa’s agricultural exports also originate from the Western Cape.

Echoing his colleague, Minister Fritz said: “I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the Smit family on their loss. We cannot tolerate attacks on our farmers, agri workers and communities.  Our farms are the breadbaskets and provide livelihood to the many surrounding it.”

“As a society we need to change the narrative on safety at the macro level to ensure community buy-in. We cannot rely on SAPS and government alone. I will further be arranging a conference with various municipalities to establish a network of safety for our rural communities.”

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