'Fear crimes', including farm attacks, are a priority for cops - Bheki Cele

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Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Police Minister Bheki Cele.
  • Police Minister Bheki Cele says farm attacks are a priority and are treated with the same seriousness as other "fear crimes".
  • Cele says more police resources are allocated to these crimes.
  • Racial tension plays a part in some farm attacks, Cele says.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said all "fear crimes", which include farm attacks and murders, along with cash-in-transit heists and house robberies, are considered a priority by the police.

Cele was in conversation with News24 editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson on Friday morning in a live broadcast, discussing farm attacks, the recent murder of top cop Lieutenant Colonel Charl Kinnear and the investigation of high-profile politicians for alleged corruption.

Cele has come under fire following a recent spate of farm killings, including the gruesome murder of 21-year-old farm manager Brendin Horner near Paul Roux in the Free State last week, especially after he condemned the violence that ensued in Senekal on Tuesday following the court appearance of Horner's alleged killers.

READ HERE | Senekal violence: Spokespeople threatened, harassed following condemnation

Local farmers and protesters allegedly stormed the courthouse and set a police vehicle on fire.

Asked by Basson whether farm attacks are a priority for the police, Cele said farm attacks form part of what is referred to as "fear crimes", such as cash-in-transit heists and house robberies. 

Farm attacks are prioritised, as much as other serious crimes

"Farm killings are already in the category of crimes that are taken seriously. We have a group of crimes that are taken seriously in a similar way."

These include gender-based violence, cash-in-transit heists and house robberies. Cele said he could not justify making one crime more important than other serious crimes. House robberies were particularly serious, he added.

READ | Cele denies saying farmers should expect to get hurt: 'I would never be so irresponsible'

"They wait for you to come in the house with your family and these guys go there with AKs and all that. So [farm attacks] are already in the category of crimes that are prioritised. Government has allocated more resources to combat these crimes.

"It's not true that nothing is being done to work on the safety of farmers," he said.

ALSO READ | Strangulation and a stock thief 'cartel': Inside Brendin Horner's tragic final moments

Cele added that the term "priority crime" was a semantic issue. "All those crimes I mentioned are prioritised. They are called 'fear crimes'. These are crimes where people's lives are taken, that put fear in people. Farm attacks are part of that."  

Don't ignore racial tension

Cele said in some cases, the motive for farm attacks was the ill treatment of farmworkers, resulting in revenge attacks. He said the delay in dealing with the land issue also added to tension in farming communities. "I would not dismiss robbery and other criminality [as motives], but I would warn people not to dismiss the issue of racial tension resulting from issues between workers and farmers. If you dismiss that, you do so at your own peril."

Cele said the police were working on improving resources for farming communities.

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