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WC officials eager to implement rural safety plan in wake of farm attacks

Stellenbosch wine farmer Stefan Smit was shot dead on Sunday. Last month, Tool Wessels was killed and his wife injured at their Bonnievale farm.

Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz (left), an AfriForum representative (centre) and Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer (right)  at a media briefing on farm attacks in the province on 3 June 2019. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - An inter-ministerial rural safety committee is to be set up by the Western Cape government.

This follows another deadly farm attack in the province. Stellenbosch wine farmer Stefan Smit was shot dead on Sunday. Last month, Tool Wessels was killed and his wife Liezel managed to escape. However, she was not unharmed. The 55-year-old was tied up, stabbed and tortured with boiling water at their Bonnievale farm.

AfriForum said that at least 17 farm attacks were recorded in the Western Cape since the beginning of the year, four of which have ended in murder.

Newly appointed Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer called this a crisis, saying it not only affected people’s lives and safety but also the province's economy, with roughly 45% of the country’s agricultural exports originating from the Western Cape.

“We want an inter-ministerial committee and to take this matter right up to Cabinet.”

Meyer and his colleague in the Community Safety portfolio Albert Fritz want action from national structures too. They’ve called for specialised SAPS rural safety units to be established and want to see progress implementing the long-awaited rural safety plan.

Meyer and Fritz plan to meet with the premier later in the week and hope to establish an inter-ministerial committee to address the problem.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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