24/04/2008 07:47 - (SA)
Johannesburg - Three farm murders took place last week, said AgriSA on Wednesday.
"There have been more than 10 700 farm attacks since 1991 in which more than 1 600 members of the farming community, including farmworkers, were murdered," said AgriSA law and order committee chairperson André Botha.
He said that in the past week Johan Myburgh of Groblersdal and At and Katrien Deyzel of Lichtenburg has been murdered.
"One gets the impression that agriculture and its people are of no importance to politicians."
"However, agriculture is one of the cornerstones of the economy as well as one of the main employers in the country.
"Commercial farmers merely want an opportunity to practise their profession in safety and to contribute towards ensuring that there is enough food on the table for South Africa's people."
Farmers and the agricultural industry should be protected as a "national asset".
Botha said AgriSA had been trying unsuccessfully for more than a year to have a meeting with Minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqakula to discuss farm and rural safety.
The organisation now intended providing President Thabo Mbeki with a memorandum about rural safety at the next presidential commercial agriculture working group meeting which will take place in about three weeks.
"We really want to be a part of this country," said Botha.
Farmers have heeded the call
"If you want to experience ubuntu, you must come out to the platteland."
He said it was only a "very small minority" of farmers who had negative relations with farm workers.
"The majority of relations between farmers and workers are excellent."
Botha said farmers had heeded the call to fight crime.
AgriSA and its members were involved in various anti-crime initiatives and becoming police reservists.
"We are not saying just give us. We take responsibility. We are there as responsible citizen to play our part, but we need some assistance from somewhere."
"When there is a spate of taxi murders every two-bit politician makes comments, but when there is a farm attack, there is no real comment, no one denounces the actions".
Botha said the direct cost of crime for agriculture was estimated at more than R1bn.