Cape Town – A rural safety strategy to address the wave of farm killings in South Africa will be finalised by the end of the year, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Wednesday.
In a statement, Mbalula said he had met with the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) and it was agreed that addressing farm killings "is and must be a priority".
"Police need to create a conducive environment for farmers to produce and ensure food security for all our people," Mbalula said.
"We reiterate the spirit of the Freedom Charter, that South Africa belongs to all who live in it."
In the statement, the police ministry indicated that office-bound police officers would be deployed during the upcoming festive season to respond to farm killings.
Meanwhile, the SAPS has distanced itself from a "fake news" story alleging that newly appointed National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole has said farm murders do not exist.
No official statistics
"We strongly condemn the fake news article and call on the public to disregard the story," Sitole's spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo told News24 on Wednesday evening.
"This is not the view of the national police commissioner or the SAPS."
Farm murders have been in the spotlight in recent weeks after thousands of South Africans gathered on Monday, October 30, in an event dubbed #BlackMonday.
The gathering was sparked by the murder of Klamputs farmer Joubert Conradie on October 24.
Since then, the National Assembly has debated the incidence of farm murders in the country, with the DA and COPE calling on the SAPS to address the issue.
The official number of farm murders in the country remains disputed as the SAPS does not release official statistics on these crimes.