July 13, 2024

Agri EC Response to Urgent Meeting with the South African Police Service Regarding the Protest Action in Kirkwood:

29 April 2022

On Thursday the 28th of April 2022 Agri Eastern Cape sent a letter to the South African Police Service requesting an urgent meeting regarding the current situation in the Sundays River Valley. In response to this letter the SAPS arranged a meeting in Kirkwood with members from Agri Eastern Cape today. This meeting included various SAPS representatives including a representative from the District Cluster, the Kirkwood Station Commander, and members of the deployed Public Order Policing Leadership.

Following a detailed briefing of events to date and the current situation, it has become clear that SAPS members on the ground executed their mandate to the best of their abilities with the limited resources deployed at the time of the protest action’s highest intensity.

We would like to thank those SAPS officers deployed, for their efforts under difficult circumstances.

However, currently there is an increased significant force deployment, which we have been assured will remain in place until the situation has been completely stabilised.

It is clear that communication between the parties and relevant role-players has been poor and has led to frustrations and mixed messages being distributed publicly.

As of this morning, a Joint Operations Committee, including Organised Agriculture, Municipal Representatives, as well as the SAPS, has been formed and has met. This will shortly be expanded to include representatives from the Private Security Companies deployed to the area and other organisations assisting in stability actions.

The purpose of this JOC will be to ensure that the correct situational information is distributed through controlled and reliable channels and that all information received is processed in the correct manner.

Agri EC would like to thank the South African Police Service for calling this meeting, and we request that all parties involved, acknowledge that it is the mandate of the SAPS to protect all residents within the Sundays River Valley from any organisation or individuals acting outside the law.

We urge all Private Security Companies and individuals deployed to the area to remain within their legally permitted areas of operation and to not infringe on the SAPS mandate unless specifically requested to assist by the SAPS.

The Citrus Industry is the cornerstone of the Sundays River Valley economy and while protest action is allowed in terms of our constitution it must take place within the boundaries allowed by law.

The South African Police Service needs to act decisively against any party that acts contrary to what is legally permitted.

For the benefit of our citrus export industry, the 2022 picking season needs to get underway and we trust that a realistic solution to this impasse will be found taking into consideration the current unfavourable economic conditions.

Brent McNamara
CEO: Agri Eastern Cape