Note to editors: Find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by DA Northwest spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development and DA Head of Court Watching Briefs Unit in North West, Jacqueline Theologo.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) today launches its provincial Court Watching Briefs Unit in North West to assist victims and families of victims of farm attacks by ensuring that attackers are put behind bars.
The situation in our rural areas is now at crisis point, with a sharp rise in terrible attacks and murders in June and July. The horrific triple homicide that took place in Hartswater of which the bodies were recovered in Taung, has shaken the farming community nationwide. Protesting farmers and farm workers lined the roads on Thursday as the arrested five suspects made their first appearance in Court.
Despite this success by the SAPS, who ran a hitherto unseen Rolls-Royce operation that resulted in the five arrests, the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Shamila Batohi, says the Criminal Justice system is buckling in the face of rising crime and dismally low prosecution rates. Last year’s prosecution rate of a shameful 2% for serious offences, testifies to this fact.
The Watching Briefs initiative was introduced by the Department of Community Safety in the DA-led Western Cape to act in accordance with the Constitutional provisions contained in Section 206 (3) of the Constitution, which provides that every province is entitled to monitor police conduct and report inefficiencies.
The work of the Western Cape unit successfully prevents cases being dropped from the roll and helps achieve convictions. The WC Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, personally attends court cases relating to farm attacks, and opposes bail on every occasion.
The DA’s Rural Safety Watching Briefs Unit will act as an unofficial go-between between the police, the prosecution services and the victims of farm attacks. We will stand by the side of the victims of these horrific crimes and assist them through the often daunting Police and Court processes.
Our Members of Parliament and Members of Provincial Legislatures will act in the best interests of victims of farm attacks in order to facilitate the proceedings and to achieve an optimum outcome. This has worked in the WC for several years, and attackers are seen to receive life sentences on a regular basis.
It will be approached as a method of assisting the various state entities, along with victims, to achieve, as unobtrusively as is possible, a quick, just outcome of any investigation or prosecution.
Our watching briefs unit will do the following:
- monitor police conduct;
- monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of police services;
- promote good relations between the police and the community;
- assess the effectiveness of visible policing; and
- liaise with the Shadow Cabinet member responsible for policing or prosecutions with respect to crime, policing and prosecutions.
One of our own Councillors, herself a farmer, was brutally attacked more than five years ago, and despite DNA proof, and endless Court appearances, the alleged attacker is still free, and living near her.
Why and how could this possibly happen in South Africa today? Why has it taken the influence of the DA Shadow Minister of Justice, Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach, to ensure the case is suddenly on the Court Roll?
What chance does a farmer have to see justice done if he, his family, a farm manager, a farm worker or a visitor to the farm is attacked or murdered?
With our Rural Safety Watching Briefs initiative, the DA hopes to improve those chances.
Farm attacks are terrorising our rural areas and as long as the attackers get away with their crimes, the horror will continue. With this initiative, the DA seeks to ensure that criminals end up behind bars as soon as possible and that violence comes to an end.
As Head of the Watching Briefs Unit in North West, I will personally provide assistance to anyone in the province who may become a victim of a farm attack.
I call on all South Africans to visit the DA’s websites at stopplaasaanvalle.co.za or stopfarmattacks.co.za and co-sign our open letter to President Ramaphosa, calling on him to address the plight of our farming communities.