DURBAN, November 16 – The premier of KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday, said it was time to take a stand against farm murders and talk openly about “the problem”.
“I think it is important to take a stand now; the killing of farmers is a problem. When we talk with farmers it seems as if this problem is based on or directed at them as farmers. We need to talk about this, since the protection of most of the farmers is based on correcting the mood and well-being between the farm workers, farm dwellers and neighbours,” said Premier Willies Mchunu.
Mchunu, who is also the deputy chair of the provincial African National Congress, was speaking at a Jan Slabbert memorial lecture in Vryheid on Thursday afternoon. A former Vryheid mayor, Slabbert was an Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Member of Parliament before leaving to form his own party. He later joined the ANC.
Mchunu said that the isolation of farms meant that many farmers were vulnerable.
“We need to create an atmosphere of being ‘your brother’s keeper’, where neighbours and passers-by will report all suspicious people.”
Strong communication ties and systems amongst the farming community should be part of a prevention strategy, he said. This, combined with an improvement in labour relations between farm owners and farm dwellers, would go a long way in creating a protective environment.
“There is still more work to be done by us, correcting good relationships between the white farmers and their black workers. The problem with the white farmers is the location of their homes as they stay far apart from each other – and from their workers – and it takes time to spread the news of an attack. To join hands in this is very important,” he said.
“Having said that we reiterate our commitment towards the fight against crime in general.”
The same collective effort used in building a united front against apartheid could be utilised in the fight against crime, he said.
Economic growth and intensive skills development programmes would, in the long term, become the most certain solution to fight crime, he said.
“Apart from creating sustainable roles for families, it is also important that the resources are available for the state to improve the lives of our people by creating better infrastructure such as decent houses and elimination of unsafe informal dwellings, something which Jan Slabbert advocated.”