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Police must answer for show of force in arresting three farmers

The police’s excessive use of force in arresting three Free State farmers is unacceptable, and the FF Plus demands answers about the incident.

According to a media report (Netwerk24: Woede oor klopjag…), approximately 30 members of the police and The Hawks in 13 vehicles executed a raid yesterday morning on a farm belonging to two sisters, who are among those arrested. They farm in the Verkeerdevlei district near Theunissen.

According to the report and information provided by the farmers’ legal representative, Mr Jaco Dempsey, the raid was executed without a warrant, and the women were held in the back of a police van for hours on end, without any warm clothing in the bitter cold.

All three appeared before the Magistrate’s Court in Brandfort today on charges of attempted murder, kidnapping, assault and the obstruction of justice.

This follows an attempt by the women to execute a civil arrest on a man and his two teenage sons, who they had suspected of livestock theft. The man fled and two shots were fired. No-one was injured.

It is general knowledge that livestock theft is an enormous problem in the area. The farmers in question recently suffered great losses with the theft of their sheep.

The FF Plus will refrain from commenting on the merit of the case, but finds the excessive use of force unacceptable. It is characteristic of a police state.

It also raises the question of why the same amount of force is not used to hunt down and apprehend those implicated in farm attacks.

In many cases, farmers themselves must take action after a farm attack or murder to find the perpetrators and arrest them, sometimes long before the police even arrive.

The FF Plus will ask the head of The Hawks, Gen. Godfrey Lebeya, to explain why The Hawks are being used to arrest farmers, and why their help was called in for this particular incident.

The party will also ask the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to provide information on the actions and successes of the Verkeerdevlei police in addressing livestock theft.

The accused were advised to ask IPID to investigate the incident, and to file civil claims against the police.

This incident is reminiscent of the so-called blue light case, where the police conduct a reign of terror against the public while criminals and livestock thieves are apparently free to do whatever they want.

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