Focus on farm murders shows 'distance we need to travel' to reconciliation, equality - Ramaphosa

2019-07-18 21:54
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation address on June 20, 2019, in Cape Town. (Jeffrey Abrahams/GALLO)

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation address on June 20, 2019, in Cape Town. (Jeffrey Abrahams/GALLO)

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Every life in South Africa has equal value and every murder, every violent crime must be equally and unequivocally condemned, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Replying to the budget vote debate for the Presidency on Thursday, Ramaphosa was specifically responding to Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald who asked the president on Wednesday if he would condemn farm murders.

Ramaphosa said "as if to underline the great need to build trust and understanding within our society, the Honourable Groenewald asks when, as the president of this country, am I going to condemn farm murders.

"The question is a measure of the distance we still need to travel as a nation toward effective reconciliation and the appreciation of the equal worth of every life in our country.

"It is a measure of the inability of some within our society to see beyond the ethnic enclaves of our past," said the president. 

"As a matter of record, on November 2, 2018, in reply to a parliamentary question, I said the following: 'Throughout South Africa, violent crime is a matter of serious concern, regardless of where it occurs or whom it affects… We strongly condemn all murders in the country, including of farmers and farmworkers, and are committed to do everything possible to defend every citizen of our country, regardless of where they live and work, from all forms of violence'."

Ramaphosa added: "I do, I have and I will continue to condemn murders on farms. When farmers are killed and when farmworkers are killed - I will continue to condemn that. 

"Every life in this country has equal value and every murder, every violent crime must be equally and unequivocally condemned.

"We are united in our desire to see a society free of crime and violence," said the president. 

"We need to be similarly united in our efforts to build such a society. There can be no meaningful progress until the police work more closely with communities, until government agencies collaborate and share information more effectively and until individuals take responsibility for their actions. 

"It is important that members of our community, where crime occurs, should be the first to come forward and work with the police," he added.

Ramaphosa continued to relate a story about how EFF leader Julius Malema called on him directly to deal with criminality in a specific community. 

"Honourable Malema calls me one day and he says, 'President, in a particular area where I visited as party leader, there is a gangster who is holding the entire community hostage' and he extorts money from this community and he's just wreaking havoc and he says, 'President, something has to be done about this fellow' and I took that to heart.

"I immediately applauded Honorable Malema and I contacted the minister of police and I said, 'You need to go to this community'. 

"Members of our community know who the criminals are and we now call upon them to act like Honourable Malema ... and say what is happening in their communities," said Ramaphosa.

He added: "The criminal was immediately arrested and he is incarcerated and peace has descended on that community.

"Now, as part of an integrated approach to tackling the most extreme incidents of violent crime, I have authorised the deployment of members of the South African National Defence Force to assist the South African Police [Service] in the prevention and combating of crime in this province."

News24 earlier reported that members of the army have been seen patrolling the suburbs of Manenberg and Hanover Park on Thursday.

Read more on:    ff plus  |  ramaphosa  |  cyril  |  farm murders
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