Normandien farmers call on govt to finalise land debate after couple murdered

Glen Rafferty (63) and his wife, 60-year-old Vida, were ambushed while returning from a social outing late last month.

Signs at a farm in Normandien, Newcastle, in KwaZulu-Natal where a farming couple was killed in August. Picture: Nkosikhona Duma/EWN

NORMANDIEN – Farmers in Normandien, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, where a prominent farming couple were recently murdered are calling for government to finalise the land debate.

Glen Rafferty (63) and his wife, 60-year-old Vida, were ambushed while returning from a social outing late last month.

A 29-year-old suspect has been arrested and he’s expected to appear in the Newcastle Magistrates Court on Monday.

However, local farmers said that a long-term solution to land and crime issues was needed in the area.

There is consensus among government authorities, farmers, workers and farm dwellers that racial tensions are rife in Normandien.

Darrel Brown, a local commercial farmer, said that government needed to act fast to ensure long-term harmony in the area.

“The problem is, petty crime is not dealt with adequately in the area, with the result that farmers land up having to deal with a number of the petty crime issues themselves, which brings about unnecessary racial tensions. We are 26 years into this democracy and we’re no closer to finalising and sorting out the whole land issue.”

Police Minister Bheki Cele is hosting an imbizo in the community.

He’s expected to outline how government plans to assist the community through its rural safety plan.

FARM DWELLERS FEEL MINISTER NOT PRIORITISING CRIMES AGAINST THEM

Farm dwellers in Normandien have complained that Cele visited the area only after the murders of farmers, and had previously failed to act after the murders of farm dwellers.

Lucky Shabalala, a Normandien farm dweller, said going forward they hoped that the minister would prioritise the safety of all community members.

“There have been many incidents that have been taking place here; people being shot; but we haven’t seen the minister coming here to talk to us. Ok, we welcome the minister today and we hope there is a way forward in terms of building rural safety.”

But during a community meeting in the area on Monday, Cele denied claims that farm owners received more support from the police compared to farm dwellers and workers.

“We prioritise South Africans – we don’t look at the colour, we don’t look at what kind of South African. If a South African is killed, we take that as a serious thing.”

Cele has promised to find four more people suspected in the killings after a 29-year-old man made his first court appearance on Monday.

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