The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development met in a virtual meeting to receive updates on the implementation of its KwaZulu-Natal oversight visit recommendations, on animal diseases in the country, and on the process the Committee would follow in the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment (ULTRA) Bill. The Chairperson also made a statement on behalf of the Committee on the recent murder of three people on a Hartswater farm in the Northern Cape.
The Department’s report on the implementation of the Committee’s KZN oversight visit recommendations was unanimously rejected as not being concrete and not providing detail. It was criticised for not covering all the issues raised by the Committee; that it contained discrepancies and was misleading; and lacked a sense of urgency and timeframes. Members agreed that it should be rejected, and that consequence management should take place. The Department needed to prepare a more comprehensive report, and would be recalled to a meeting dealing solely with the recommendations in two months.
In an update on the country’s animal disease status, the Department said that budget cuts to re-prioritise funds towards Covid-19 had reduced the already tight budget for veterinary services, and this had a severe impact on the control of disease outbreaks in the provinces. South Africa had lost its Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) free zone without vaccination status. It had applied to the World Organisation for Animal Health to regain its status, but this had been refused, as all the affected animals had not been culled. The Department was developing a sustainable FMD management strategy as part of a plan to regain its FMD free status.
Outbreaks of African Swine Flu had been experienced in all provinces except KZN and the Western Cape. The outbreak areas had been quarantined and follow up activities implemented by provincial veterinary services. There had been an outbreak of avian influenza in the Western Cape, and this had resulted in export restrictions. The Department had developed a Bovine Brucellosis policy document, and was now working on developing implementation plans.
Members said the Department was not winning the fight against FMD. South Africa’s own entities should be empowered to develop vaccines -- how far were they in developing one? How was the Department addressing the improvement of coordination between the national and provincial departments? What was the timeframe to apply again for FMD free status, and how had the lack of this status affected trade? What was the Department doing with regard to the vandalisation of red line fences? What was the economic impact of Brucellosis?
In an update on the planning and processes for the ULTRA Bill, the Committee Secretariat noted the requirement that the public participation process had to be adequate, meaningful and reasonable, and the public be given ample opportunity to be heard. The question was how such a public engagement could be facilitated in the current Covid environment. The Committee was also concerned that limited public participation in the development of the bill would impact on how it would deal with legislation. In addition, there were some sections of the bill that could be found to be unconstitutional, and the Committee would have to engage on these issues while it had limited time and space to deal with the legislation. The Secretariat outlined what had to be done to raise awareness of the bill and possible ways of holding public hearings, which were set for 18 and 19 August. Members said that only virtual meetings should be considered, and argued that two days of public hearings were not enough -- four days to a week should be set aside tentatively.
The Chairperson welcomed the arrest of three suspects in a kidnapping, murder and robbery of a couple and their daughter on a farm in Hartswater in the Northern Cape, and said the suspects should face the full might of the law and the justice system must send out a strong message that there was no place for such callous and inhumane acts. The Committee had repeatedly condemned such attacks on farms and farmers as acts of gross criminality, which were detrimental to the social cohesion that South Africa’s democracy needed.
KwaZulu-Natal oversight visit: Progress report
Mr Sidumo Dlamini, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, apologised for the late submission of the reports.
Mr Nhlanhla Mndaweni, Chief Director: KZN Agriculture and Rural Development Department, updated the Committee on the proposed solutions for farms or projects that were experiencing challenges.
Green Island Farm
The challenges were high electricity tariffs; diversification from sugarcane to macadamia trees; dilapidating irrigation infrastructure; theft and vandalism; an option to have the farm purchased by government; water shortages; and the implementation of 100% recapitalisation (RECAP) into the farm.
The Department responded that the farmer was considering replacing Eskom with renewable energy, but engineers reported that this was a very expensive option. The farmer did not consider diversification, because he had contracts in place to honour, and the land was prime sugar cane land and sugar cane prices had risen. A business plan was being compiled for consideration of funding in the next financial year. The farmer participated in an active policing structure. No request to purchase the farm had been received by the Department. The farmer indicated that the cost of pumping water from the Umfolozi River required a very big capital injection. On the 100% RECAP, mill records indicated that the farmer performed well and was able to sustain farming operations on his own.
The issues were that the Department demanded rent payment, whereas former Minister Nkwinti had verbally relaxed payment of rent to provide relief to farmers; there were challenges with accessing resources from financial institutions; the succession plan for the farm; and theft leading to a lack of irrigation equipment.
The Department responded that the farmer had entered into a payment plan for lease arrears. The farmer was advised to extend his applications and requests to the Land Bank and the South African Farmers Development Association (SAFDA) for support. It was the farmer’s prerogative to have a succession plan, but he worked with his 27-year-old son in preparation for the succession on the farm. The farmer participated in an active policing structure.
The issues were that the farm was predominantly under sandy soil and there was limited water availability, and the farmer had requested the Department’s permission to plant macadamia instead; the price of sugar was gradually decreasing, while production costs were increasing; cable theft; and the Department had demanded rent payment, whereas former Minister Nkwinti had verbally relaxed payment of rent to provide relief to farmers.
The Department responded that it was processing the request for diversification. It would be finalised as soon as the farmer had submitted additional information. The Department was processing a request for hydroponics to farm vegetables, and the farmer was requested to submit building plans for the new hydroponic system. The farmer had hired a security officer who worked the night shift and patrolled the farm, and there was ongoing monitoring of all the strategic points on the farm. On 25 October 2019, farmers had been advised to make individual submissions to the Department for not paying rent.
The issues were that lease premiums created a burden to the project when the project generated less income; the need for a clear skill transfer programme; the project had a business plan detailing a turnaround strategy estimated at R4.5m; the support that was provided by different departments was not comprehensive enough to cover the whole production process; and the Portfolio Committee recommended that the beneficiation process be closely monitored to ensure that all parties involved into the project got the benefits of the project.
The Department responded that it supported Coastal Cashews in rent payment negotiations for relief with the Ingonyama Trust. The appointment of a young graduate from the local community as their junior manager was not implemented, because it still had cash flow problems. Coastal Cashews was engaged with the provincial Department of Agriculture in developing a comprehensive business plan. Confirmation of the beneficiation process by all parties involved in the project was being facilitated.
Spitskop / Plain Trading
The issues were that money had been withdrawn from the business account after the death of the lessee; the criteria used by the District Beneficiary Selection Committee (DBSC) to select a potential lessee; there was unauthorised use of grant funding and unlawful removal of project assets from the farm by Plain Trading 4cc; and someone had complained that they had been removed from this project, which was given to a lessee that they did not know.
The Department responded that the business account had been accessed by the wife of the lessee via a bank card. The policy and terms of reference for beneficiary selection had been followed. The unauthorised use of grant funding and unlawful removal of project assets was currently under investigation by the Department’s internal audit and legal services unit. The people of the Zamokuhle project were occupiers of the Spitskop farm prior to the Department acquiring Spitskop, and had an agreement with the land owner to be relocated to the Zamokuhle Project land, so there were no occupiers at Spitskop that had to be taken care of.
The challenges were that the farmhouse needed renovation so that the farmer could use it; the farmer needed assistance to obtain a bailing slasher; and goats and calves were being killed by jackals.
The Department responded that the renovation of the farm house would be included under the Department’s On Farm infrastructure budget. The bailing slasher had been provided by the provincial department. Consultations were being held with KZN eZemvelo Wildlife to come up with a plan to deal with the jackal challenge.
The challenges were that there were other households that had been relocated from Spitskop farm to join them; Zamokuhle project members had lodged a claim against Spitskop in 2014; and they needed support to develop the land.
The Department responded that the relocated households from Spitskop had been by agreement with the land owner. The claim was not being looked into until the Land Rights Restitution Act was amended, as directed by the Constitutional Court. A meeting was held with them to explain their rights and how the law worked. The Department was developing a post-settlement support package.
Liberty Farmers project
The issues were the lessee needed funding to add more feeding troughs, and the farmer did not have a lease agreement.
The Department responded that the project had been prioritised under Land Development Support for 2020/2021, and the farm had been supported by the provincial Department of Agriculture in 2019/2020 in a beef enterprise for R7.4m. The delay in finalising a lease agreement was because a sub-division had to be done to accommodate other beneficiaries on the farm, and the request for the signing of a 30-year lease had been approved.
The issues were the need for support relating to the electricity supply, and the condition of the house and fencing.
The Department responded that it would consider renovating the farmhouse and rehabilitation of the fence through the Department’s On Farm infrastructure support.
The issues were that members of the Trust required training on technical skills and financial management; the clarification of the position and further involvement of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) in the project; and the 5% shareholding.
The Department responded that training had started and members had received training on sugar cane from the South African Sugar Association, and on grafting avocado. The national office was dealing with the NEF issue.
The issues were the need for a potato washer and sorter, and a collapsing dam wall on a neighbouring farm which Westwood accessed.
The Department responded that it and the provincial Department of Agriculture had agreed to provide the potato washer. It was in discussion with the owner of the neighbouring farm, and an engineer had been sent to the farm.
Ndumo Farmer Production Support Unit (FPSU)
The issues were the lack of market access; and alternative sources of energy.
The Department responded that the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) was trying to find them market access, and the Department had explored the Koba Tlala programme of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). The Department was still investigating alternative sources of energy.
Ms Elder Mtshiza, Chief Director: Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP), said that since the oversight visit, a permanent head of department, Mr Sibanda, had been appointed to address the Committee’s recommendations.
At Ndumo, the provincial department had to draw-up a turnaround strategy to fix all the challenges raised by project beneficiaries. In terms of the title deeds, the Department had to consult the Deeds Office to source documentation on land use by farmers of Ndumo, as the land was under the Ingonyama Trust and the lease agreement should be issued per cooperative for them to be able to access funding from the bank; alternative sources of energy should be explored because electricity/diesel seemed to be too expensive; the produce had to be aligned with quality standards required by the market, and beneficiaries should be trained for those quality standards.
The Department responded that a contractor had been appointed to clear and maintain the pump stations for irrigation. This would be complete by September this year, and a task team had been established to work on a comprehensive business plan. Alternative sources of energy were being explored. The beneficiaries sought the assistance of a private company in partnership with the University of Johannesburg, which sponsored the design of a solar system, to be installed at the pump station. The Department had started the installation of solar panels at the pack house and storage facility.
At Coastal Cashews, the challenges were related to the land; the need for a mentor; the collective had to meet to develop a turnaround strategy; the beneficiaries had to be updated on the progress relating to the farm; and the involvement of youth was compulsory in the project.
At this point the Chairperson stopped the presentation, as he had allowed the presenters extra time and needed to cater for other business on the agenda as well.
Ms M Tlhape (ANC) said the Department had provided selective responses to the Committee’s recommendations. The responses should not have been addressed to the farmers -- they had to be addressed to the Committee. There were no time frames given in the responses to Green Island farm, so the responses were not helpful. On moving farmers to Zamokuhle, she said it was better to restore the previous farmers with claims, rather than bringing in new farmers from another area. Zamokuhle was not well represented in this matter. She wanted an update on the woman at a dairy farm who had requested a dairy machine.
Mr N Capa (ANC) said his key concerns on oversight visits were unemployment, poverty and inequality. Members had shed tears on seeing the situation of Spitskop and Zamokuhle, as there was no sign that they were benefiting. The way resources and funds were treated there was not satisfactory.
Ms T Mbabama (DA) said she had two concerns. The first was that the Committee did not have enough time to deal with the many discrepancies in the Department’s report and secondly, she was not getting a sense that the answers given were genuine and honest. She asked if the state’s lease and disposal policy was a national or provincial policy, and wanted to see a copy of it.
The Chairperson said that the scheduling of meetings was not done by staff, and the Committee was given three hours to attend to their matters. The Department could also be engaged with, and could respond in writing to Members’ queries.
Mr S Matiase (EFF) agreed with the previous two speakers. He said the Department was engaging in deliberate concealment -- the report was misleading, and further questions were a waste of time. He asked if they had developed responses and plans for each of the farms identified in the ten months since the oversight visit. There was no sincerity or urgency, and the officials needed to be sent back to prepare a more comprehensive report, and should not use Covid-19 as an excuse.
Ms B Tshwete (ANC) said there was nothing concrete in the report. Zamokuhle did not even have a budget. She had taken notes on the oversight visit, and a lot was missing in the report, so it was not a true reflection of the Committee’s recommendations. What had been given was not sufficient.
Ms K Mahlatsi (ANC) said she was concerned and disappointed by the report. The report and the presentation said two different things on the purchase of a potato washer, for example. She could smell the poverty at Zamokuhle, and the Department was not going to be allowed to do that to the people of Zamokuhle. The report had reflected only bits and pieces totalling a maximum of 10% of the oversight visit.
Ms T Breedt (FF+) welcomed the appointment of a permanent Head of Department, but was disappointed in the report, as she did not see concrete changes taking place. The Department needed to provide feedback sooner to the Committee. She asked what the timeframes on the Committee’s recommendations were. There was no timeframe given for the renovation of the farmhouse at Jabula Zondi. She asked how Covid-19 was affecting the Department’s plans, and whether the national department blindly trusted the provincial department’s input.
Mr N Masipa (DA) referred to the financial issues, and asked when the problems relating to the Land Bank would be solved. He asked if projects were funded through grants only. Crime and cable theft in the farming community made the work of the Department more difficult -- what was the Department doing to end it, taking into account the very recent murder of three people on a farm?
Mr M Montwedi (EFF) said he was disappointed in the report because there was nothing in it. It should be rejected, and consequence management should take place.
Ms N Mahlo (ANC) said she was highly disappointed in the report. The Department should redo it and provide more detail. No mention had been made of the impact of the Department’s adjusted budget. There had also been no mention on the input of the Department of Basic Education regarding the creche at Zamokuhle.
The Chairperson said the Committee was very disappointed in the Department’s report on the Committee’s recommendations, as the report lacked detail. Had the Department made any progress on the Committee’s recommendation on the institutional weaknesses in farmer support which it had identified? How was policy on beneficiary selection and land allocation going to help the Department achieve its mandate for sustainable land redistribution, with specific reference to KZN? Did the Department have data available on agricultural productivity in the identified rural communities? Was the Department aware of the impact that insecure land tenure rights systems had on communal agricultural enterprises? If this was so, what progress had been made to ensure rural agricultural productivity? How would the use of the farmer database register benefit farmers, and how was it going to increase levels of food security? The Department would be recalled to a meeting dealing solely with the recommendations in two months, and its report should be detailed.
Mr Mdu Shabane, Director-General: DALRARD, said the concerns of the Committee had been noted.
Update on Animal Disease Status
Dr Botlhe Modisane, Chief Director: Animal Production and Health, Department of Agriculture, said that trade in animals was allowed at all levels of the lockdown. There was restricted movement of people, and this had limited the spread of diseases across provincial boundaries, and roadblocks had helped control the movement of pigs and pig products from areas affected by African Swine Fever (ASF). Budget cuts to re-prioritise funds towards Covid-19 had reduced the already tight budget for Veterinary Services, which had had a severe impact on the control of disease outbreaks in the provinces.
Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) had appeared in January 2019 in Limpopo and as a result, South Africa had lost its FMD free zone without vaccination status. Another FMD outbreak had been detected in September 2019 in Limpopo. The quarantining of affected herds and other control measures were put in place and clinical surveillance of surrounding areas was done. These outbreaks were controlled and movement controls were implemented. South Africa had applied to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to regain its status, but this had been refused, as all the affected animals had not been culled. Another FMD outbreak had been detected in November 2019 in Limpopo. Approximately 12 000 animals had been safely culled, with another 5 000 still to be done.
In March 2020, FMD was detected in Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga. The outbreak was ongoing and the control measures included vaccination and movement control. The Department was developing a sustainable FMD management strategy as part of a plan to regain its FMD free status. The impact of budget cuts because of Covid-19 on the work of the veterinary services had increased the risk that other provinces would get FMD.
Outbreaks of African Swine Flu (ASF) had been experienced in all provinces except KZN and the Western Cape. The outbreaks were influenced by farming practices. The outbreak areas had been quarantined, and follow up activities implemented by provincial veterinary services, including awareness education on improving biosecurity standards. Mpumalanga province was the biggest concern.
There had been an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in the Western Cape, including in ostriches, so that only Limpopo was selling raw ostrich meat. South Africa was not HPAI free, which had resulted in export restrictions.
The Department had developed a Bovine Brucellosis policy document, and was now working on developing implementation plans. Bovine Brucellosis was a disease that could infect humans through the consumption of raw milk from infected cows and through contact with infected tissues/secretions from infected animals. Improved control of the disease would increase productivity by two to five percent.
Rift Valley Fever was troubling farmers, as it affected all ruminants. No outbreaks had been detected in 2019 or to date in 2020.
Ms Tlhape said the Department was not winning the fight against FMD. It should use the budget of R10m to refine boundaries and develop animal entities so that South Africa could reclaim its FMD free status. To start, they had to look at Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, and this must be done speedily and in an integrated manner. She asked how far South Africa was in developing a vaccine instead of buying from other countries. She applauded the Department’s interaction with the South African Pork Producers' Organisation (SAPPO). The Department needed to strengthen prevention measures. The farming community was losing a lot through the abortion of cattle because of Brucellosis, and the Department must present its strategy to the Committee.
Mr Matiase welcomed the fact that FMD was limited to certain regions, and the same with HPAI. He called on the relevant agency to find a vaccination, as the spread of this disease to humans could not be afforded.
Ms Tshwete said South Africa’s own agencies should be used for sourcing vaccines, rather than outside bodies.
Ms Mahlatsi said South Africa’s own entities should be empowered through investment. The loss of FMD free status was a worrying factor.
Ms Breedt asked how the Department was addressing the improvement of coordination between national and provincial departments. What was the timeframe to apply again for FMD free status, and how had the lack of this status affected trade? What was the Department doing with regard to the vandalisation of red line fences? Were they being monitored? She said there was a news report where China had mentioned a new strain of swine flu -- how was biosecurity being implemented? She wanted a copy of the Brucellosis policy document, and asked when the implementation plan would start. What was the economic impact of Brucellosis?
Mr Masipa asked for a progress report on the fencing.
Ms Mahlo said the statistics were mainly on commercial agriculture. Did the Department have statistics on rural commercial farms?
The Chairperson asked what the status of ASF was in the Eastern Cape, particularly in the Amatola region.
What progress had been made by the OIE in revising its policy on the culling of animals showing clinical signs of such a disease? He wanted an update on the appeal process regarding the case in 2019 where the Public Protector had ruled in favour of a Free State farmer for the loss of cattle due to Brucellosis. The farmer had felt the outbreak had been inappropriately managed by the Department, and the Department had said it would appeal the Public Protector’s report on the case.
Dr Julian Jaftha, Chief Director: Plant Production and Health, said it was useful to give frequent updates, because the situation changed so quickly. He referred to not winning the fight against FMD, and said the country would never have zero percent incidents of FMD. It was an ongoing issue, and the Department had systems in place to detect it. The biosecurity system had been prioritised.
Dr Modisane referred to how far the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) was from producing vaccines, and said South Africa was at present purchasing vaccine from Botswana, but the vaccine was not sufficiently covering the outbreaks, which was creating challenges for the Department in managing FMD. In the past, the ARC had supplied vaccines, but at some point it had lost the capacity to do so. It had been given additional funds to recover the lost production capacity. A project manager had been appointed to oversee the development of a new factory. Currently they were producing only 50 000 of the half million doses required.
The Brucellosis policy document still had to go through processes within the Department before it was finalised. The Department was currently doing the implementation plan so that a proper socio-economic assessment could be done. The commercial farming sector could largely avoid the disease, but the communal farmer was struggling with it. In the past, the Western Cape had experienced the disease in humans, which could be chronic and debilitating.
He said this was the first time ever that ASF had been experienced in the Eastern Cape in the Amatola district, where there had been a reduction but not a closure of the outbreak. ASF was difficult to manage.
The new disease from China was swine flu, which was different from swine fever. Swine flu also affected human beings.
On the control of FMD zones, he said the Department was not able to apply currently to regain its status because the culling was incomplete, but it was negotiating for products from certified FMD free zones to be accepted.
The Department needed to improve public awareness on ASF, and to inculcate good biosecurity measures.
It had received additional funds for biosecurity, and FMD vaccine would be bought, as well as stronger protection line fences, to specifically separate vaccination zones.
The big challenge for provinces like Limpopo was communication between the national Department and the director of veterinary services. The people working under the director of veterinary services, however, worked under the control of municipal managers, which created breaks in the lines of communication, leading to challenges in controlling outbreaks.
Regarding the appeal against the Public Protector’s ruling, he said there was proof the farmer had been using unregistered vaccines. The matter was sub judice.
He said the OIE policy was one of the biggest challenges to South Africa regaining its FMD free status. Even though cattle recovered fully, they still tested positive for FMD, so the Department was culling all the animals. Compensation for culled animals was another factor to be considered in controlling animal diseases.
The Chairperson said all unanswered questions should be responded to in writing by 5 August.
Mr Shabane said the Committee’s letter should also include how the Department needed to respond to the amendment that was requested to the APP regarding the additional allocation.
The Chairperson said that that matter would be the first item at the Committee’s next meeting.
Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment (ULTRA) Bill: Update
Dr Tshililo Manenzhe, Committee Content Advisor, said the legislation dealt with the tenure rights of the most vulnerable sectors of society, and the important thing was how public participation was facilitated. The process had to be reasonable and the public given ample opportunity to be heard. The question was how public engagement could be facilitated in the current Covid environment in a reasonable, meaningful manner. The Committee was concerned that there would be limited public participation in the development of the Bill, and the Covid environment would impact on how the Committee would deal with legislation. The question therefore, was what was considered adequate, meaningful and reasonable participation.
He said there were some sections of the Bill that could be found to be unconstitutional, and the Committee would have to engage on these issues. It had limited time and space to deal with the legislation. The Bill had to provide adequate protection for women against discrimination in terms of ownership of property and the protection of land tenure rights.
At this stage, the Committee had issued calls for comment on the Bill through advertisements, and comments were trickling in. Simultaneously, there had been a mobilisation process to make the public aware of the bill, while the public hearings would form part of the mobilisation process. He reiterated that public participation -- getting the public involved -- was the key issue. Covid did not suspend the public participation obligations.
He proposed two options, firstly to proceed with virtual public hearings and secondly, to hold regional meetings and workshops of 50 participants. He recommended the first option be used, with two days being set aside for public hearings. He proposed that an SMS and/or WhatsApp line also be made available to get input. He proposed that radio stations be approached to have an open line on community radio stations, where people could be delegated to speak about the Bill and receive input and document the issues being raised. He outlined the communication action plan, and mapped out the relevant dates for the public hearings, which were set for 18 and 19 August.
The Committee Secretary said the submission date had been extended to 7 August 2020.
Ms Tlhape said that only virtual meetings should be considered, and regional meetings should not be thought about.
Ms Mbabama echoed Ms Thlape’s concern. She said two days of public hearings were not enough, and four days should be set aside tentatively, pending the petitions received. She asked if the Department had a list of rural women and youth associations which should be specifically targeted. It should bear in mind that they might not be able to do Zoom meetings. She asked if big screens could be put up as an alternative, as she was concerned that many rural people might not be “tech savvy.”
The Chairperson said the amount of days given to hearings was dictated by the incoming petitions. Should there be an increase in the number of petitions, the Committee could appeal for an increase in the number of days.
Mr Matiase said the main concern was how adequate, meaningful and reasonable participation could be achieved. He had previously proposed that application be made to grant an extension period for the process. Adequate and meaningful participation could occur only in a Covid-free situation. Virtual meetings by their very nature were limiting, because the target constituency was rural women and youth. Virtual meetings were not ideal for rural communities. Would the Committee provide data and laptops to them for the meetings? If not, then adequate and meaningful consultation would not be possible, so the planning proposal had to be reconsidered.
Ms Mahlatsi asked to see the participation plan. She asked if Parliament had the capacity to deal with connectivity and laptops. Had public participation ever been done in a virtual manner before? The input of rural women was needed. Given the experience of the ‘doctors for life’ case study, would this participation be adequate and meaningful? She agreed more days should be set aside for the public participation hearings, and an extension to the process should be requested if the Committee was unable to reach rural women.
Mr Capa said the team should strengthen publicity and monitor the processes, and the Committee should be updated as soon as possible.
Ms Breedt agreed more days should be set aside, but she feared that the Committee would get insufficient input.
Mr Masipa said two days were not enough.
The Chairperson said virtual engagements catered only for those who were urban based, and such facilities did not exist in rural areas like Mvezo village, for example. He wanted the team to take that point into consideration, and think about how to mobilise the rural community. There were possible alternatives, such as using traditional councils and their traditional leaders and community centres in rural areas, so that their input could be collected.
Kidnap and murder of three people on a Hartswater farm
The Chairperson welcomed the arrest of three suspects in the kidnapping, murder and robbery of a couple and their daughter on a farm in Hartswater in the Northern Cape. He welcomed the swift action of police and said the suspects should face the full might of the law. The justice system must send out a strong message that there was no place for such callous and inhumane acts. The Committee had repeatedly condemned such attacks on farms and farmers as acts of gross criminality, which was detrimental to the social cohesion that the country’s democracy needed. He expressed the Committee’s condolences to the family and friends of the victims. He appealed to the South African Police Service (SAPS) to leave no stone unturned to find the missing couple and to bring the alleged perpetrators of this heinous crime to book.
He also appealed to farmers, farm dwellers and rural communities to always be on the alert and to assist in intelligence gathering, which might assist in reducing the incidence of violent crime on farms. He applauded SAPS for its swift response, and trusted that the early breakthrough in the arrest of suspects had sent a strong message to others that crime did not pay and that the full weight of the law should come down hard on perpetrators of such senseless acts.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development Revisions to Annual Performance Plan Tabled In March 2020
- Kwazulu Natal Provincial Progress Report from the Oversight Visit to KZN
- Progress Report on Project Visit by National Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
- Animal Disease Status Update
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