New focus on farm security

The government bemoans every farm killing and would tackle the problem in every province, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said on Tuesday.

“It is not just the killing of a white farmer but also [that of] the workers we condemn,” Joemat-Pettersson told a gathering of black and white commercial farmers at Senekal in the Free State.

Joemat-Pettersson said the murder of white farmers should not be labelled race crimes as this was not the case. She said farmers were isolated in rural areas and easy targets.

Joemat-Pettersson said the Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa would soon visit every province in the country to fine-tune a rural safety strategy.

She was visiting the Makolobane Farmers Enterprise at Senekal belonging to successful black commercial farmer Pitso Sekhoto during the farm’s apple harvesting.

The minister participated in the harvest and used the opportunity to discuss agriculture issues with local farmers.

The event was also used to celebrate a case of land reform success. She said the department was planning similar events to show case the establishment of a successful black-owned commercial farm in every province.

The minister stressed that the government did not want white commercial farmers to leave the country.

“If they leave a skills and knowledge package, build up over years, is leaving the country.”

She said other African countries recognised South African farmers’ skills and hoped to attract them, but added: “We want to keep them.”

Joemat-Pettersson said the government was worried about the Vaal river flooding agricultural land and considered declaring disaster areas. Other rivers in flood were being monitored closely.

“We have managed the Orange river well over the past week,” she said.—Sapa

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