The Democratic Alliance (DA) has launched a nation-wide Court Watching Briefs Unit as a means to specifically assist in farm attacks and to put those attackers behind bars.
The situation in our rural areas is now beyond urgent, with a sharp rise in terrible attacks and murders in June. There were two further attacks in KwaZulu-Natal just last night.
In 2001 for every 100 violent crimes (murder, rape and aggravated robbery) reported to the police, in only six cases had the perpetrators been convicted after more than two years. Just six.
Twenty years on and there are claims that law enforcement has all but collapsed. The National Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Shamila Batohi says the system is buckling in the face of rising crime and dismally low prosecution rates. Indeed, last year prosecution rates for serious offences were as low as 2%.
The Watching Briefs initiative was introduced by the Department of Community Safety in the DA-led Western Cape to act in accordance with the Constitutional provisions contained in Section 206 (3) of the Constitution, which provides that every province is entitled to monitor police conduct and report inefficiencies.
The work of the Western Cape unit successfully prevents cases being dropped from the roll and helps achieve convictions on the basis of evidence.
The DA’s Rural Safety Watching Briefs Unit will act as an unofficial go-between between the police, the prosecution services and the victims of farm attacks or other related crimes. The members of our unit will act in the best interests of a victim or victims of a farm attack or related offence and as a go-between between the police, the prosecution, the victims or other involved persons or parties, in order to facilitate the proceedings and to achieve an optimum outcome.
It will be approached as a method of assisting the various state entities, along with victims, to achieve, as unobtrusively as is possible, a quick, just outcome of any investigation or prosecution.
A watching brief can and should do the following:
- monitor police conduct;
- monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of the police service;
- promote good relations between the police and the community;
- assess the effectiveness of visible policing; and
- liaise with the Shadow Cabinet member responsible for policing or prosecutions with respect to crime, policing and prosecutions.
One of our own Councillors, herself a farmer, was brutally attacked over five years ago, and despite DNA proof, the alleged attacker is still free, and living near her.
Why and how could this possibly happen in South Africa today?
What chance does a farmer have to see justice done if he, his family, a farm manager, a farmworker or a visitor to the farm is attacked or murdered?
With our Rural Safety Watching Briefs initiatives the DA hopes to improve those chances.
For our DA Watching Brief project we have nine provincial heads, all of whom are ready to assist in any farm attack situation, to ensure the entire Criminal Justice System works smoothly from the police, through the courts, and ending in the prisons. The heads are as follow:
Dr Ivan Meyer MPP
Annette Steyn MP
Chris Pappas MPL
Bosman Grobler MPL
Jacqueline Theologo MPL
Dr Reinette Liebenberg MPL
Adrian Roos MP
Dr Roy Jankielsohn MPL
Jacques Smalle MPL
Farm attacks are a scourge that plagues our country and as long as the attackers get away with their crimes, the horror is just going to continue. With this initiative, the DA seeks to ensure that criminals end up behind bars as soon as possible and the violence comes to an end.