The scary numbers behind SA's farm attacks and murders
That was according to civil rights organisation AfriForum and a senior analyst at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), after AfriForum and the Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai) released AfriForum’s 2019 statistics on farm attacks and murders on Wednesday.
In 2019, 552 farm attacks were reported and confirmed. This was 27% more than in 2018. There were 57 farm murders in 2019, three more than 2018.
The most attacks took place in May (61), January (54) and December (50).
Most attacks were committed between 6pm and 3am.
The most murders took place in March (8) and April, May and June (6).
According to the report, KwaZulu- Natal was one of the four provinces with the highest number of farm murders - the others included the Free State, Gauteng and Limpopo. KZN had the second least farm attacks.
In 2018, KZN had 23 farm attacks, which increased by 16 in 2019, bringing it up to 39.
The province was the second joint highest province with the most murders, with eight murders, alongside Gauteng.
AfriForum’s head of community safety, Ian Cameron, said their data showed that rural communities were starting to fight back and become more prepared.
“The significant increase in farm attacks in 2019 proves that the police do not have the capacity or power to prevent violent crime on farms. This means that you will most probably have to rely on yourself in the case of a violent farm attack,” he said.
ISS senior researcher Johan Burger said he agreed with AfriForum’s analysis because the police had launched a Rural Safety Strategy to improve rural safety. However, it was not properly implemented successfully everywhere.
“They (farming community) are improving their own training, in terms of the use of firearms to protect themselves and improving the organisation around their own protection structures. They believe they have a much better chance of protecting themselves if they organise themselves better, rather than relying on the police and the rural safety strategy,” Burger said.
He said AfriForum was also correct in saying that what the police were doing was inadequate. The farming community wanted a strategy that was fully functional, that was able to protect them more than what was currently the case. Now they spent their time, money and efforts in improving their security.
“Although the murder figure is not as high and did not increase in a meaningful way, it is probably due to the fact that the farming community are now better able to protect themselves,” Burger said.
KZN Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) chief executive Sandy La Marque said while there was a decline in KZN, “one cannot deny the fact that there is a growing need to address crime, murders and attacks in rural areas”.
“The Rural Safety Plan forms a sound departure point, but unless safety and security forces, leaders and communities rise up to fight crime in rural areas the situation can quickly deteriorate,” she said.