Below is an interview Political Analysis South Africa’s Stephanie Naidoo had with Freedom Front Plus (Vryheidsfront Plus, FF+) Leader, and Police Portfolio Committee Member, Dr Pieter Groenewald, on the #BlackMonday campaign which aims to prompt national government to address farm murders and farm attacks as an issue of priority.
Interviewer: Please could you elaborate on the context of the campaign?
Dr Pieter Groenewald: Well, firstly the context is quite clear, that after the murder of the farmer in the Western Cape, Mr Conradie, there was an individual from the public and he shared on social media that the people must come together and they must do something. And, that was followed up by a student at the University of Stellenbosch, and she started the campaign “Genoeg is Genoeg” or in English, “Enough is Enough”, and it spontaneously developed into the situation where everything happened today. So, it was a spontaneous response from the people of South Africa, the communities, the rural communities and the farmers, to say that they want to demonstrate to the government of the day, to say enough is enough.
Firstly, I welcome this whole campaign, because we believe that when you talk about farm murders, that you are talking about a strategic industry in South Africa; people must ask themselves, what they had for lunch, for instance, or what they are going to have for dinner, this evening? And if they answer that question, they must also remember that all the food was produced by farmers in South Africa. That is why we say that it is a strategic industry in South Africa. And, just to give you a comparison, if you look at the farm attacks and farm murders report by the police in 2003, they had then already found that the chances of a farmer to die in a farm attack is three times more than that of a security guard in transit robbery. Now, the Head of the Hawks said, in Parliament, in August, that on the 11th of August there was a spate of cash-in-transit robberies in South Africa, and that on the 11th of August, they had declared cash-in-transit robberies a priority crime, and they investigate. And, therefore I have asked, “But, if the police’s own report says that a farmer is three times more likely to be killed in a farm attack, why do you not have farm attacks as a priority crime?” But, they cannot answer it, because there is no political will, and that is part of the problem when you talk about farm attacks and farm murders.
What do you think will be the outcome of the campaign, and how do you anticipate it might address the issue of farm murders and farm attacks?
Well, you must understand, the purpose of demonstrations, are not that suddenly there are not going to be farm attacks, anymore, or farm murders, but, it is nothing else but to try to give a message to the government of the day because they know there must be a political will to fight these farm murders and farm attacks. And, it is clear that the government took notice of what has happened today – the Minister of Police gave his mind on the matter, as well as the ANC, and even Julius Malema. And, it is also politicians, as far as I am concerned, that are irresponsible when some of them are making certain remarks like “the land has been stolen,” because we believe that instigates farm murders. And we had this specific case – we had two medical doctors from Ellisras, the Emslie family – the doctor (husband) was killed in a farm attack, the wife was seriously injured, the daughter at the University was there for the weekend but luckily she survived, but then she asked one of the criminals “why are you doing this?” and his answer was that “you have stolen from us.” So, there are exact examples where criminals are busy with farm attacks and farm killings, and the motive, they are saying is, “because you have stolen from us” – that is what politicians are saying.
I think they have taken notice of what is happening, and I think, and hope, that they will do something about it. Firstly, that politicians will stop making irrational and irresponsible remarks. Secondly, that the Minister of Police will stop just talking about how he is going to professionalise the police services, and how well-disciplined he is going to get them, and how accountable he is going to hold them. He must start doing something. In his own report, the police’s own report on farm murders, it is said that in 34 police stations, the whole rural safety strategic plan has never been implemented, where 14 of those police stations are in the Western Cape where the farm murders have now started occurring. So, that is further proof and admittance from the police, themselves, that they cannot keep up with the rural safety strategy and other sector policing.
Dr Groenewald, is there anything that you would like to add?
I want to add, that we must not politicise this issue. I am very upset about that fact that the Minister said that I have asked for the farm murders because I want to politicise this. The Freedom Front Plus did not organise this Black Monday – it was a spontaneous event, movement, from South Africa; ordinary citizens, people who are farmers, people who are friends and family of farmers, and they just feel that enough is enough, especially, if you look at the cruelty that goes with these farm murders. Then, the question arises, “but, is this really, thoroughly, normal crime?” And, we do not believe that is so. So, I really ask the government of the day, not to see it as a political issue, see it as a responsibility, and especially that the police have a Constitutional obligation to protect people of South Africa, and their property. And, please start doing that because, the problem with South Africa, specifically the police service, can be compared to a box of apples and there are quite a lot of rotten apples in that box, infecting all the good cops in South Africa who really work hard to ensure our safety. But, only the Minister of Police, and only the President, can remove those bad apples, from that box. So, my plea to them is, please remove the bad apples from the box.