In a relatively new approach to crime stats reporting, the SA Police Service (SAPS) now reports on farm murders as a separate category in its crime stats.
The last time the SAPS reported separately on farm crimes was in 2007.
The head of police crime research and statistics Norman Sekhukhune told parliament on Tuesday that from April 1 2017 to March 31 2018, murder was up by 1,320 on the previous year, with the total countrywide being 20,336.
He said that crimes categorised as farm murders came to 62 in total during 58 attacks, with 12 in Gauteng, nine each in Limpopo and North West, eight each in Mpumalanga and the Free State, seven in KwaZulu-Natal, and three each in the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Western Cape.
Sekhukhune made it clear that the stats did not explore whether the motives for these murders or acts of violence were political or otherwise, merely that they took place on farms or smallholdings.
Forty-two murders were on farms, with 15 on smallholdings. There were two rapes and six attempted murders, with 33 house robberies.
Forty-six of the victims were white, with 16 being African.
Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald thanked Police Minister Bheki Cele for including the breakdown on rural crimes in the SAPS presentation, something Groenewald partly took credit for after lobbying for it.
So total farm murders across the country equate to one fifth (20%) of the murders reported at Nyanga Police Station last year. https://t.co/Po537Zjfiu
— Ben Pooler (@benpooler) September 11, 2018
Some immediate reaction to the stats was disbelief, especially from people who subscribe to an argument presented by groups such as AfriForum that there is a targeted genocide taking place against white farmers.
I find the figure HARD 2 believe! Only 62 #FarmMurders in 2017/18 – U C DAILY Attacks & almost every day some1 died in the attack so these NUMBERS must have been "doctored" for SURE!!!! Just like many Other #CrimeStats I am sure! #CRIME out of CONTROL in #SA #ANC #LiesLiesLies https://t.co/kTAbjRlSEm
— RHeiti (@RHeiti) September 11, 2018
— Isoldé Laesecke (@ILaesecke) September 11, 2018
AgriSA reported that 47 farm murders occurred while SAPS say 62 farm murders happened in the same time period. Afriforum reported 84 farm murders for 2017/2018 #CrimeStats
— Roman Cabanac (@RomanCabanac) September 11, 2018
Farm murders as percent of all murders last year: 0.3% #crimestats
— Anine Kriegler (@Anine_Kriegler) September 11, 2018
There were 62 murders on our farms in South Africa over the 2017/18 year! The majority of those killed were farm owners. #CrimeStats
— Sihle Ngobese (@BigDaddyLiberty) September 11, 2018