Durban – Police Minister Bheki Cele faced tough questions around poor policing in rural areas when he visited Normandien, KwaZulu-Natal today.
Cele hosted a ministerial rural safety imbizo in the area after Glen and Vida Rafferty were found murdered in their home last month.
On Saturday, KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala held discussions with the community in Normandien to plan a way forward after a spate of farm attacks across the province.
During the discussions, farmers and farm dwellers complained about the poor policing of farming areas.
Zikalala said he was aware that there were problems relating to the operations and functioning of police stations in the area.
He said the provincial Department of Community Safety and Liaison would be probing the allegations that had been raised by the communities and farmers.
“The allegations include police stations that are not investigating and following up on cases, and that the police are picking sides. That is wrong and cannot be accepted.
“We need the police in all our police stations to work objectively and in a fair manner.
“Police officers should not take sides and favour some at the expense of others,” he said.
He said the government would, in future, be looking into strengthening and improving policing on and around farms.
Zikalala said it would also be working with the MEC for Community Safety, Bheki Ntuli, and KZN police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula to address the issue of poor policing.
However, Zikalala also said that the harassment of farmworkers should be stopped immediately.
“We must improve our relationships with our police stations. Ours is to request that we work together so that we can put an end to farm killings and resolve these issues around the operations.”
Zikalala further urged farmers and farm dwellers to work towards growing the industry.
“Farming is one of the industries that are key to the growth of the economy. Let us grow it while working together,” he said.
The KZN African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (Afasa) deputy secretary, Mbongeni Sikhakhane, said that for years they had been urging the government to develop a proper structure for policing the farming community.
Sikhakhane said part of their demands was for the government to provide horses to police stations situated around farms.
“There’s not enough police visibility around the farms, that is why farmers are being targeted.
“Some of the matters are not taken seriously when they are reported to the police.
“We are hopeful that going forward there will be changes and improvement in ensuring the safety of farmers and farm dwellers,” said Sikhakhane.