The civil rights organisation AfriForum and the family farm network Saai will fight any resistance from the state against neighbourhood and farm watches who resume legal operations. These organisations encourage neighbourhood watches to continue patrols despite cases of resistances reported to the organisations. AfriForum and Saai will also offer legal support to anyone who is prosecuted maliciously in the legal execution of neighbourhood and farm watch operations.
AfriForum and Saai plans a country-wide resistance patrol on 6 June 2020, despite – in some cases – fierce resistance from senior government officials against neighbourhood watch patrols. Neighbourhood and farm watches were not allowed to patrol during level 4 and 5 of the lockdown, but Regulation 33 (1), issued on 28 May by Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, clearly states that people may leave their homes to provide specific services, excluding activities listed in Table 2 of these regulations. Neighbourhood and farm watches are not listed in this table.
An increase in farm attacks
According to Ian Cameron, head of community safety at AfriForum, there are many cases of excellent co-operation between neighbourhood and farm watches and the SAPS. “However, the main focus of certain high-ranking government officials does not seem to be on curbing crime, because this is exactly what neighbourhood and farm watches do. It is our constitutional right to protect ourselves within the framework of the law, and we therefore encourage all neighbourhood and farm watches to resume patrols. It is now more important than ever that criminals realise that our communities are protected,” says Cameron.
“Saai has already witnessed an increase in farm attacks over the past few days. We want our farmers to be able to protect themselves, and one of the most important ways to achieve this is through patrols. It is especially people on farms who cannot rely on the police for protection. The farming community plays an inestimably important role to help ensure people’s safety. We cannot allow the police to intimidate communities when these communities simply want to protect themselves and their properties in a legal manner,” says Dr Theo de Jager, chairperson of the board of directors of Saai.
AfriForum and Saai are willing to help anyone – and not just members of AfriForum and Saai – who is unjustly prejudiced in the execution of legal neighbourhood and farm watch operations. – Press release, AfriForum and Saai