Tuesday, April 13, 2010
'Safety on farms government's priority'
13 April 2010, 18:17
Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson on Tuesday strongly condemned violence against farmers and farmworkers, and said her department was making security and safety on farms a priority.
"The government condemns in all its manifestations the violence aimed at farmers and farmworkers," she told MPs in the National Assembly, speaking during debate on her department's budget vote.
Earlier, briefing the media at Parliament, she told journalists that ensuring security and safety on farms was a "critical and urgent priority" for her department.
"In this regard, under the leadership of the minister of police, we have deployed soldiers to patrol our borders, especially to curb and arrest activities around stock theft and illegal cross-border movement of agricultural commodities.
"In this context, police presence and visibility in our farming areas will be stepped up."
Joemat-Pettersson said a "more visible and tangible presence of police in rural areas" was needed.
Police reservists would be involved in the initiative.
Responding to questions on farm safety, she said violence on farms was not new.
"It is not a new phenomenon. We have had problems on farms even before the term of this government."
Referring to the deployment of soldiers to the country's borders, she said there was concern about the illegal importing of agricultural goods, especially with regard to animal diseases.
"Stock theft has become one of the largest problems along the borders of especially Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The losses that we experience through stock theft are quite astronomical," she said.
Speaking later in the House, Deputy Agriculture Minister Pieter Mulder told MPs that tens of thousands of cattle, sheep and goats were stolen from farms around the country last year.
This had cost South African farmers hundreds of millions of rand.
"In the previous year , losses of animals that have been reported stolen, minus the numbers recovered by the [police] stock theft unit, are 34,000 cattle, with a monetary value of R255 million; 28,000 goats, value R40 million; and 60,000 sheep, value R71 million.
"In total, 152,000 animals were stolen, to a total monetary value of R366 million... This is a very serious situation," he said.
Joemat-Pettersson told journalists her department was preparing for a national farmworker summit through a series of regional meetings, which included looking at safety on farms. She also ruled out any re-introduction of the so-called commando system in rural areas.
"No, we are not going back to the commando system. We simply believe we cannot afford porous borders, because where you have these... in other parts of our continent, the capacity for importing and exporting goods is compromised.
"The economy of agriculture depends on us managing our borders more effectively," she said. - Sapa
Comments by Sonny
Since 1994 it has never been a SA government priority to protect the farmers.
Bring back the Commando System before we start to believe you!
Close our border and deport all illegal foreigners from SA soil.
Stop ANC arrogance and corruption.
Respect the Rule of Law!
Don't play hop Scotch with our constitution!
Refrain from rigging crime statistics!
Uphold the LAW!
Bring back the Death Penalty for violent crimes and murder!