SAPA, June 2, 2006
White Free State farmers on Friday said violent crimes in rural areas were racially motivated and that in every farm attack the criminals were black.
The farmers told journalists in Bloemfontein they were considering taking the government to court for its failure to provide a safe environment for them in the province’s rural areas.
“Crime in all forms is busy ruining the Free State,” said Kobus Breytenbach, spokesman for the farming body’s law and order committee.
“These criminal activities in rural areas are unbearable for residents.”
Breytenbach said three farm murders and five attacks in relation to robbery were committed in nine of province’s districts in the past two months.
Breytenbach said the increase of violent crimes on commercial farmers in rural areas was clearly racist in nature.
“In every farm attack the criminals are black. This trend promotes racial tension and racial hatred.”
Breytenbach said the trend must be stopped before things got out of hand.
Even a black upcoming farmer in the Steynsrus region was among those murdered, according to Breytenbach. “(Committing) . . . .crime is not a shame anymore.”
Louw Steytler, president of Free State Agriculture, said: “We have forwarded the contents of statistics of criminality and farm murders in the confines of our province for a legal opinion in regard to a possible class action against the state,”
Steytler said they felt the government was neglecting its duty in regard to the safety and security of farmers in general.
The farming body said there was a silence from the authorities — from municipal level to the President’s office — on the increase of violence and crime , and that this was worrying.
“Government leaders on all levels should on a continuous basis strongly condemn attacks, murders and crime,” said Breytenbach.
“The brutality and ill-treatment of victims must also be condemned.”
Breytenbach said the police’s concept of sector policing in Free State rural areas was way behind and needed urgent attention.
Although referring to ‘excellent’ police work in catching criminals after farm attacks, Breytenbach said the province nevertheless needed more pro-active crime prevention operations urgently.
Steytler said although the state had “miserably failed” agriculture in terms of safety and security the farming community was willing to work with government to address the problem.