Cele: Farm murders not a priority crime, but police doing all it can to prevent attacks

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Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Police Minister Bheki Cele.
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  • SAPS will not classify farm attacks and murders as a priority crime.
  • Police Minister Bheki Cele says crimes associated with farm attacks are categorised as contact crimes - the most serious crime category.
  • Cele adds that police are ploughing resources into detecting and preventing farm attacks.

Police Minister Bheki Cele says farm attacks and murders will not be classified as a priority crime.

According to Cele, this is because farm attacks usually refer to incidents classified as aggravated robbery on a farm or dwelling.

Cele says farm attacks are often associated with violence against victims, which ranges from common assault, attempted murder and rape.

In response to DA MP Andrew Whitfield's written parliamentary question, Cele said police report on 17 different crimes as classified by communities and four categories of crimes, which are dependent on police action for detection, in its annual crime statistics.

READ | SAHRC to investigate tweets glorifying farm murders

"The most serious of these crimes are grouped into the category, [and is] referred to as contact crimes and include murder, attempted murder, sexual offences, assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, common assault and aggravated robbery.

"The crimes associated with farm attacks are, therefore, included in the most serious category of crimes SAPS reports on," Cele said. 

The South African Police Service (SAPS) recently adopted a national rural safety strategy to curb crime in farming communities.

Cele said this was adopted as a means to address the threat of farm attacks and murders in rural communities, to ensure food security, and also for agricultural activities to operate safely.

He said:

It recognises the need for a national response to address crime in rural areas and the need to work with stakeholders in and outside government in this regard.

"All serious and violent crimes are focus areas in the reviewed national rural safety plan that was implemented on 1 March," Cele said.

He added that the plan will be implemented over a period of five years and come to an end in 2025.

In July, FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald thanked Cele for the police's national rural safety strategy, while the DA claimed the government was not doing anything about farm attacks.

ALSO READ | SAPS, Agri SA agree to work together in fight against farm attacks

The DA has been vocal about attacks on the country's farms, and launched a watching briefs campaign to monitor cases of farm attacks in court.

Farm attacks also received the attention of Deputy President David Mabuza, who condemned violent attacks on farmers and people in rural farming communities.

He stressed the importance of the agricultural sector to the country's economy and called on all South Africans to value farmers and farm workers, and to be relentless in pursuit of a better country.

Cele said police are ploughing resources into detecting and preventing farm attacks.

"All incidents in rural areas, including farms and small holdings, are analysed weekly, and provinces and police stations are tasked to address identified hotspots.

"Rural safety coordinators have been appointed to coordinate all activities within the rural policing area and to strengthen implementation of the national safety plan at police station level," he said.

Cele also said rural safety is a top priority for SAPS.

"All role players in the rural and farming community, relevant government departments and civil society are involved in these safety committees.

"The rural safety priority committees meet monthly and quarterly to monitor incidents of violence on farms and small holdings, to establish trends and new developments, and to plan preventative interventions and operations to ensure personal as well as food security," he said.


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