By Leona Kleynhans MPL – Member of the Official Opposition in the Free State Legislature
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is heartbroken to hear of the death of a young cattle farmer in the Free State. Teboho Machakela (37) was shot in the head during a robbery on his farm in the Odendaalsrus area on 19 August 2020. After being in a coma for six weeks, he recovered well enough to eventually be sent home. He sadly died on Monday, 2 November 2020. We send our condolences to his family and loved ones.
Teboho joins a long list of farmers and farm workers who have died in the line of duty in the province. According to information, yet to be confirmed, there were more than 10 farm attacks in the Free State since 1 October 2020 resulting in the deaths of 4 people. In addition to this, David Leslie died on 18 October 2020 after the brutal attack on his farm in the Eeram area near Harrismith on 1 September 2020. He had been in a coma in hospital following the attack.
Just two days ago we heard of the brutal murder of Pieter Hills (56), and the attack on his son, Eddie, which has left Eddie in a critical condition in hospital. This attack took place in the farm house of the Zwartpan farm near Hennenman.
On 25 October 2020, Dave Wessels (65), died after he was attacked in his bed on his smallholding, Avondster near Viljoenskroon. Aside from being a farmer trading in sheep and cattle, he was also a decorated military veteran.
The young farm worker, Brendin Horner (22) was brutally assaulted and strangled on the farm De Rots near Paul Roux on 1 October 2020. His death resulted in an outpouring of outrage across the country and focussed attention on the lack of safety and security in farming and rural communities.
The Free State has lost these five farmers in the space of five weeks. All of them engaged in productive farm activities producing food for our country.
Aside from these attacks which led to the deaths of the victims, there have been numerous incidents in which the victims were kidnapped and tortured. As well as thousands of livestock being stolen every month.
We simply cannot go on like this.
Minister Bheki Cele makes many promises, but the reality is that the SAPS is utterly under-resourced, under trained, de-motivated, and in some cases colluding with the thieves and attackers.
The DA calls upon senior government leaders to acknowledge that we have a massive problem. Together, we need to do the hard work to root out corruption, recruit committed and upright citizens, properly resource, fund and train the police service. SAPS also needs to engage the DA’s rural safety plan and implement certain aspects thereof in order to address and improve the safety of our farming community.