Cele plot against farmers alleged

2009-10-19 00:00

THE Kwazulu-Natal Agricultural Union (KwaNalu) has hit back at politicians who they say have become complicit in a “concerted campaign aimed at destabilising the commercial farming areas of the province”, chief among them being newly appointed national Police Commissioner Bheki Cele.

KwaNalu CEO Sandy La Marque said in a statement that allegations levelled against the farming community in the Paulpietersburg area that they have abused their workers have led to the area enjoying heightened focus from politicians at national and provincial level. They include the Ministers of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Land Affairs and Rural Development, the commissioner of police and, more recently, a delegation of provincial MECs from KwaZulu-Natal.

She said allegations were levelled at the commercial farming community in the area without the farming community being allowed adequate opportunity to investigate the allegations and put all facts before the visiting dignitaries and the media.

She said Cele recently visited the area and made “outrageous and aggressive statements” about land owners and called for “local police services to act towards the commercial farming community in a manner which violated the most basic of their legal rights”.

“In particular he implied that they were to be viewed as guilty until found innocent”.

La Marque said KwaNalu takes note that the alleged atrocities have now been investigated by the Department of Public Prosecutions and found to be without foundation.

“In similar vein, wild and, in many cases, unfounded allegations have been made against commercial farmers in the Underberg and Cedarville areas.”

She said it appears to the membership of KwaNalu that there is a concerted campaign aimed at destabilising the commercial farming areas of the province.

This, she added, is “a campaign with which the political dignitaries mentioned above have become complicit, albeit that this may be deliberate or due to them having acted in good faith”.

“That political leaders act in such a manner without first validating the facts available is unbecoming of persons of such stature and totally unacceptable to us as a farmers’ union.

“We call on leaders in the province to act in keeping with the responsibilities bestowed upon them and to ensure that the rights of all citizens are treated with equal respect.”

La Marque said KwaNalu has a long and successful record of ensuring that balanced views of such allegations are properly reported, recorded and investigated.

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