South Africa has launched a website on “Stop Farm Attacks” with the aim of seeking more public support in efforts to curb an increase in farm murders.
The website contains an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, urging him to take immediate action to stop the scourge.
Urgent action must be taken regarding “the perpetual fear and danger our rural men and women live and work in as they grow the very food we eat,” the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said as it launched the stopfarmattacks.co.za website on Monday.
The DA urged all South Africans to visit the website and co-sign an open letter to Ramaphosa, calling on him to address the plight of farmers who face an increased risk of attacks, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hours after the website was launched, thousands of South Africans had signed the letter. The DA said it intended to collect at least 20,000 sigatures before submitting the letter to the parliament.The DA has requested a debate of national importance in the parliament so as to pool collective wisdom and find solutions to farm murders.
“It cannot be that the government and parliament continue to turn a blind eye to the plight of farmers, farmworkers, their parents, wives, and children who suffer cruel, senseless and often deadly torture at the hands of criminals,” said Dianne Barnard, chairperson of the DA rural safety workstream.
In South Africa, which is among the countries that have the highest crime rate in the world, the rise in farm murders has become a focus of attention.
According to civil group AfriForum, there were 552 farm attacks in 2019 as opposed to 433 in 2018, translating to an increase of about 27 percent. This year, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown period, the country has seen a sharp increase in attacks on farms and small holdings.
Between April and June, 12 farm murders and 88 attacks were reported, with 17 farm attacks, and one murder in April, 19 attacks and four murders in May and 56 attacks and seven murders in June, according to figures provided by the DA.