Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa admitted the government was concerned about farm attacks and killings.
He said in his second imbizo (meeting) with South Africans on Wednesday night that he was “deeply concerned” about all the murders in the country – including farm murders.
He spoke to the police earlier in the day and said that in future there should also be a focus on farm murders.
The government has long been accused of not doing enough to prevent farm attacks and killings. Ramaphosa still denied the seriousness of this two years ago when he was asked about it in New York.
“The issue of farm murders is a major concern for us. We are also concerned about the murders of many other people.
“I am deeply, deeply concerned about everyone who is killed in our country.
“If I do not speak directly about what is happening on our farms, in rural areas or in our townships, it does not mean I am not very worried about it,” Ramaphosa said.
He says the focus will henceforth be on the rural economy. “It is not only about agriculture, but also about infrastructure. It is about the sustainability of commercial enterprises.
“Agriculture can play a big role in creating jobs,” Ramaphosa said.
The meeting took place online and members of the public and members of local radio stations across the country had the opportunity to ask questions to the head of state.
Ramaphosa further said the Covid-19 Command Council is currently debating whether the country’s schools should remain open amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
He says the World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated it is not wise to keep schools open when the pandemic is on its way to the peak.
“A number of unions have called for schools to be closed during this period,” Ramaphosa said.
However, South Africa is not the only country that has reopened its schools. Several others did the same.
“We are consulting various role players, which include organizations, parents, unions and student organizations, and will try to find consensus on a way forward.”
Although the whole country is currently a coronavirus hotspot, there is a sharp increase in the number of infections, especially in Gauteng, the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
“There is no evidence for this yet, but it is starting to look as if the Western Cape has reached the summit. We will know in the next few weeks.
“We have learned many lessons from what happened in the Western Cape.”
He said the government would not keep him blind to the roughly three million people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. “We will come up with a strategy to help these people.”
He reiterated the ban on alcohol is only temporary.
Grandma Annetjie and her cigarettes
Ramaphosa was also asked about smoking.
One grandmother Annetjie from Pretoria called and said she lived in a retirement village.
“We are treated like school children. I am a smoker and would like to be able to buy cigarettes. I am currently paying R100 for a pack of cigarettes. “Please, Mr. President,” she said.
“I have great respect for you and realize that you are currently sitting with a prickly pear in your hands.”
Ramaphosa answered her in Afrikaans and said with a smile: “Ouma Annetjie, you are right, the prickly pear stings me in many places.
“I hope you will understand in your heart that we did not ban tobacco. It’s just suspended.
“The issue of selling tobacco will be resolved as the levels of restraint move.
“I wish you a long life then in the old age home,” was the president’s farewell message to grandmother Annetjie.