‘Secure our borders’

2018-03-28 06:00

Free State Agriculture (FSA) has called on government to address border safety after the brutal murder of a black farm manager and the rape of his wife in the Ladybrand district.

The deceased and his wife were reportedly attacked on Monday, 19 March, at about 19:00. The man was reportedly stabbed to death while his wife was assaulted and allegedly raped.

The deceased worked as a manager at the Brandenburg farm, approximately 5 km outside Ladybrand and close to the Lesotho border. The farm owner is Jan van den Berg.

This was the second farm-related murder in March in the Free State following the murder of farmer Dirk Steenkamp. According to the police, he was shot dead on his farm Palmietfontein while working on a water pump.

The armed attackers, six or seven of them, robbed Steenkamp of his gun and cellphone and fled.

According to Tommie Esterhuyse, vice-president of FSA, the murder of the farm manager and the rape of his wife signal government’s inability to safeguard the farming community.

He said the organisation was saddened by the heartless incident.

“This is a clear sign that government has no adequate measures to protect agricultural communities at the border,” said Esterhuyse.

“The organisation will use its communication strategies to ensure that the Rural Safety Strategy (RSS) includes everyone in the agricultural community.

“We will insist on Wednesday (28/03) that farmers, farm workers and staff should be part of it. On Wednesday the provincial implementation plan of the RSS will be finalised between all role players with action steps to improve rural safety.

“The FSA also calls on government to address the security and safety situation at the border between South Africa and Lesotho.”

Esterhuyse said he suspected the gruesome attack had been sparked by refusal to share pastures.

The attackers are presumably from Lesotho. According to the FSA VKB Safety Desk, cross-border grazing of cattle is involved in the incident.

“It is a serious border problem. This is evidence that cross-border activities leads to the weakening of the safety of people. Such criminal activities cause people to become targets and victims,” said Dr Jane Buys, safety and risk analyst at FSA.

According to her, border safety must be addressed through, for instance, a border road and the establishment of a border fence, as well as increased operations and patrols.

Buys said FSA was involved in various forums to address cross-border safety. This includes the Border Safeguarding Forum, the Cross-Border Crime Prevention Forum and the Priority Committee for Rural Safety.

Leona Kleynhans, DA member of the provincial legislature, described the killing and rape as savage.

“These savage attacks on farmers and farm workers can no longer be tolera­ted. The DA insists that the police establish rural safety units with the sole purpose of protecting rural inhabitants – both farmworkers and farmers.”


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