28 April 2022
Following a visit to Kirkwood on Wednesday 27 April 2022, I can report as follows:
The situation was initially tense but is somewhat under control. There was a flare-up at about midday and latest reports are that it is again stable.
The situation is however volatile and very fluid and can change quickly. Police re-enforcements have been deployed as well as a significant number of private security companies.
The Sundays River Citrus Forum has obtained a court ordered interdict against the organisation that is responsible for these protest actions as well as key individuals, which has resulted in a suspension of the main protest movement. However, what is extremely disconcerting is that Co-ordination at ground level is poor. I would even go as far as to say non-existent. This is a recipe for a potential disaster.
No properly functioning JOC has been formed involving relevant role-players by SAPS. This is resulting in poor information sharing and mixed messages being circulated. There is no SAPS aerial support currently on site.
I spent the best part the day in Kirkwood and failed to engage with any senior SAPS leadership despite attempts to make contact. This matter will be addressed formally in our next scheduled meeting with the leadership of the SAPS.
There are reports of protest action possibly resuming in the next few days, but this information remains unconfirmed at this stage.
It has also been brought to the attention of Agri Eastern Cape that violent threats are being made to farm workers and farmers, that if you return to work violent acts will be committed against you and your family. This cannot be allowed to continue any further.
Organised Agriculture is being side-lined to an extent and to be frank communication from SAPS is poor.
Therefore, Agri Eastern Cape is taking a strong approach towards SAPS in this matter and are demanding that the South African Police Service address the protest action in a manner in which it deserves.
These are acts of violence and terrorism and it is the opinion of this organisation and its leadership that the SAPS are not doing nearly enough to get the situation under control.
Agri Eastern Cape hereby demands a formal meeting with the Provincial Leadership of the South African Police Service whereby an update must be provided on the current resources deployed to the area, a full debrief of the operational plans, and a seat in the JOC going forward.
The members of Agri Eastern Cape, their families and their employees are under threat from a rogue element. Agri Eastern Cape must be included in all operational planning and strategic movements going forward to ensure the safety of the Kirkwood community. Agri Eastern Cape will also assist in making available resources available to the SAPS and the JOC that are at our disposal.
The key to a successful outcome from this situation is coordination, which at the moment there is very little of.