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Durban - Despite two attacks on members of the local farming community this week, the latest research shows that there has been a marked decrease in the number of farm-related murders in the past financial year.

The research findings were released by Agri SA, which said that the decrease in statistics was an indication of a change in attitude on the part of the police and the fact that they recognise the seriousness of this matter. On Tuesday, a farm manager was attacked in Hidcote in the KZN Midlands.

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said: “They demanded firearms and money. He had no guns and he was pushed into a cupboard and they drove away with his vehicle. It was later recovered in Ladysmith.

“A 33-year-old man was arrested and will appear in the Mooi River Magistrate’s Court soon,” Gwala said.

Last week an elderly woman was shot during a robbery at her home.

Tommie Esterhuyse, the chairperson of Agri SA’s Centre of Excellence on Rural Safety, said attacks on the farming community and the brutality of these attacks were unacceptable.

Esterhuyse said the farm murder rate did not mean that the agricultural sector should lessen its vigilance.

National police spokesperson, Brigadier Vish Naidoo, said the decrease was due to the launch of the Rural Safety Strategy in 2017 in which police partnered with members of the farming community and residents to establish the Community in Blue concept. 

“Part of police national commissioner, General Khehla John Sithole, was to address the issue of rural safety and farm attacks. There have been meetings with farmers’ associations, traditional leaders and community policing forums and this has resulted in the concept reaching these goals,” he said. 

Naidoo said the concept was launched in the Eastern Cape and will move to other parts of the country soon. 

He said this is a long term strategy by police. 

KZN Violence Monitor, Mary de Haas, welcomed news of the decline. 

“I am not sure what the police are doing differently, but I hope the decrease continues,” she said. 

The Mercury