Item 640 - Address by President Nelson Mandela to the Summit of Rural Safety and Security

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Address by President Nelson Mandela to the Summit of Rural Safety and Security


  • 1998-10-10 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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ANC Website

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Summit on Rural Safety and Security

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  • English

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Members of the Cabinet

Other than our legislative bodies, this is perhaps one of the most representative gatherings in the country since Codesa. This summit represents what has become a defining tradition of our new democracy, to strive for national consensus and unity in facing national challenges. In more ways than one, it is an immense contribution to our nation building efforts and our continuing crusade for reconciliation and reconstruction.

I am therefore honoured to be among you today and I would like to thank you for the invitation. I deeply regret that I cannot be with you through the entire day and be part of the deliberations. I would also like to thank you all for being here. Your presence is deeply encouraging, and gives us confidence that this meeting will bring significant results.

This is first and foremost a summit for action against crime, in particular the killings and violence against members of the farming community

The government deplores the cold blooded killings that have been taking place on the farms in the past few years. While killings on farms, like crime in general, have been a feature of South African life for many decades, the incidents of murder and assault in farming areas have increased dramatically in recent years.

It is appropriate that we should all rise and observe a moment of silence in memory of those who have lost their innocent lives under very tragic and traumatic circumstances.

Beyond the immediate human suffering, lack of security and stability in our rural and farming community causes serious disruption to our economy. It threatens to bring reduced growth or production, loss of wages and profits and in time unemployment. It brings the spectre of deepening poverty, and potential social instability and upheaval.

For all these reasons, we must stop these killings at once. And we must act together in doing so, for there is no other way to succeed.

The South African Police Service, the South African National Defence Force, the different intelligence arms, working together with the agricultural union have launched the Rural Protection Plan. Although it has already produced some excellent results, like all campaigns that are initiated to confront a mammoth challenge, the Rural Protection Plan has limitations and short comings. It is the task of this summit to provide solutions and make suggestions that can make us all winners against crime and lawlessness.

And although the success rate of this operation in apprehending offenders is quite impressive, the mark of a stable society is not how many criminals you put behind bars, but a low level of criminal incidents happening at all.

That is the objective of our overall national strategy to combat crime, which combines measures to tackle the roots of crime with the creation of an effective justice system that carries the clear message that crime does not pay.

To that end we have been reshaping our police service to the needs of new society; improving capacity at both managerial and operational levels, including through the establishment of the country’s first detective academy. We have been rooting out corruption in the criminal justice system which has undermined the efforts of the majority of men and women of integrity in the police, courts and prisons services.

In order to strengthen the hands of judicial officers we have tightened the laws on bail, on parole and on organised crime and increased minimum sentences for serious crimes. It should be said these changes, like all the progress we have made, have come as a result of partnership with the community - we have listened to problems and acted in the light of proposed solutions. The successes of our security forces have depended on the close co-operation of communities.

There can be no doubt that steadily but surely we are broadly turning the tide, but crime is still at a totally unacceptable level and the progress is uneven. In particular the situation in the rural and farming areas demands our urgent attention and action.

This summit must therefore concentrate on strategies to prevent the commission of crime in our farming communities.

Primary in this approach, is the need to address the social environment in our countryside. Crime will not be prevented or stopped by fortifying our neighbourhood. In fact it is not desirable that our farms be turned into garrisons. Farms are meant to produce food for the livelihood of the nation. They must be able to do so in condition that guarantee safety and security.

Government has the responsibility to protect and defend all the citizens in the country, including farmers. I must indicate again now that my government and I are unwavering in our commitment to ensure there is safety and security in our farming communities. The delegates that represent agriculture are aware of the efforts the police and the defence force are putting into making our countryside a safe place to live in.

But this is a task we cannot perform alone, we need the support and participation of the community as well.

There are many ways in which members of the public could be part of or reinforce our men and women in uniform.

One example is the low level of participation in the commando system. I am therefore giving instructions to the Minister of Defence to immediately investigate mechanisms to ensure maximum participation in the commando system not only by members of the farmers organisations, but also farmworkers and dwellers as well as the community in general. I urge organised labour in the Congress of South African Trade Unions, National Council of Trade Unions, the Federation of South African Unions and other unaffiliated organisations to co-operate with the Minister in this regard.

This summit must commit all of us to conduct ourselves in a manner that embraces the values of the new democracy. Let us recall how we emerged from a conflict that threatened to have this country rendered a piece of scorched earth and its cities flowing with streets of blood. We averted all that through a common commitment to a new observance of the human dignity of each other irrespective of racial, religious, cultural or other differences. Let us in this venture too remain true to that commitment to human dignity and equality of all. There is a body of evidence which indicates that some of the killings do arise from feelings of revenge, growing out of exploitative employment conditions or racial discrimination and attacks. Human rights violation and random assaults unfortunately happen on too many of our farms. While nothing can even start to approach a justification for killings of any human being - that after all is what informs this government’s principled opposition to capital punishment - all of us will agree that such practices must come to an end.

The strongest shield for each farm or the farming community as a whole are the people that reside on the farms - farmers and workers, land-owners and tenants alike. The conditions under which they live do affect the way they respond in the event of an attack.

The documents before the summit give the distinct impression that there is agreement that the elimination of poverty and inequality are the surest long-term guarantee to eliminating crime, instability and intra-communal tensions. It would be encouraging if the summit came with proposals how the gross situation of poverty in much of our farming and rural areas can be alleviated.

Let us pay tribute to our men and women in uniform who are doing their all under the most trying conditions to guarantee our safety an security.

Their capacity to fight crime is improving all the time. This is due to the measures to which we have already referred, to the introduction of specialised units and the strenuous efforts to improve working conditions and remuneration levels of the police, scare resources notwithstanding.

I have defied the injunction of my bosses to take a respite from my schedule so that I can come here to address a question which I know perturbs many South Africans and which concerns me deeply.

My own interactions with this community lead me to believe that it is unnecessary to say what I am about to say. But let me assure you, nevertheless, that there is no political campaign to drive white people, and in particular Afrikaners, off the land. There is in the first place no force in this country which has the capacity to do that. More importantly, we will never again tolerate a situation where any of our communities is threatened or victimised. Our commitment to fight all forms of domination and discrimination is even stronger than it was in 1964 when we faced the hangman in defence of human rights, equality and freedom.

Let no-one doubt it: We were ready to die for certain ideals, and we are even more determined to live for their realisation for all.

The farming community is exposed to danger and crime as are other South Africans. You have the advantage of strong organisation and a coherent voice to air your grievances and to strengthen the efforts to overcome this problem

The solution to the problem of farm killings must emerge from all of us. I am convinced that any political differences notwithstanding, this is one issue on which we can speak with one voice. I am of the view that even if at times the chorus may have been discordant, we are singing the same song.

South Africans are a daring people who do not shy away from a challenge, no matter how formidable.

This is yet another challenge we must tackle with pride and determination. Together we can make our rural areas safe.

I thank you.

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 11/12/06 by Helen Joannides




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