South Africa 31.5.2018 03:56 pm

Farm attacks increase slightly while farm murders decline in past two years

Supporters of the #BlackMonday picket along Hendrik Potgieter Road, 30 October 2017, as they protest against farm murders. Picture: Michel Bega

Supporters of the #BlackMonday picket along Hendrik Potgieter Road, 30 October 2017, as they protest against farm murders. Picture: Michel Bega

Statistics show that farm attacks increased from 478 in 2016/2017 to 561 in 2017/2018, while farm murders declined from 66 to 47 during the same period.

A report by AgriSA has found that farm attacks increased from 478 in 2016/2017 to 561 in 2017/2018.

During the same period, farm murders declined from 66 to 47, according to the agricultural organisation’s report, citing the South African Police Service as a source.

According to the Rural Safety Strategy, acts of violence on farms and smallholdings are aimed at people residing, working on or visiting these areas, whether with the intent to murder, rape, rob or inflict bodily harm.

In addition, all acts of violence against the infrastructure and property in the rural community aimed at disrupting legal farming activities as a commercial concern, whether the motive(s) are related to ideology, land disputes, land issues, revenge, grievances, racist concerns or intimidation are included, the Rural Safety Strategy states.

“Against this background, farm attack statistics do not only include crimes against commercial farmers, but also smallholding owners involved in a farming activity, emerging farmers, farm workers, their family members and visitors,” director of AgriSA’s Rural Safety and General Affairs Chamber Kobus Visser, who compiled the organisation’s report, says.

The report states that, according to police statistics reported in parliament in the past six years, North West recorded the most farm attacks, 722, with Gauteng recording 644, the latter province recording the most murders at 69. KwaZulu-Natal and North West recorded 61 farm murders.

“In the analysis of Gauteng’s statistics, it is important to take into account that most farm attacks occur on small holdings,” Visser says.

The map titled Farm Attacks contained in AgriSA’s report shows the percentage of farm attacks in each province in the past six years, while the one titled ‘Farm Murders’ shows the percentage rate of farm murders in each province during the same period.

In the report, Visser says that in the past two financial years, national crime statistics showed an increase in farm attacks.

“People who live on farms in rural areas are particularly vulnerable to armed farm attacks, where response times are lengthy because of the remoteness of farms. This offers the attackers an opportunity to linger on the premises for longer, with a greater chance of the victim being subjected to a high degree of violence and brutality,” Visser states in the report.

Visser adds that, considering the country’s food security, continued attacks on the farming community remain a cause for concern.

He says combating crimes in farming communities remains the responsibility of the government and the agricultural community cannot be held solely responsible for addressing the issue.

“The threat to rural safety is of such a nature that the farming community must continue to ensure their own security,” Visser adds.

In his opening remarks, Visser says statistics on farm attacks should be applied with caution, as the topic is an emotional one.

“It is important […] not to include incorrect information in the statistics, and so doing make unfounded inferences and stir up emotions,” he says.

Afrikaans rights lobby group AfriForum embarked on an international campaign recently “to garner support and lobby against racist theft [in the form of land expropriation] and farm murders”, the group’s deputy CEO Ernst Roets tweeted at the time.

A protest dubbed Black Monday was held last year by members of the farming community highlighting the scourge of farm murders in the country.

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