Shadrack Moephuli, CEO of the Agricultural Research Council, (foreground) is questioned by commissioner Leon Wessels during national hearings about the safety and security issues facing farming communities at the SA Human Rights Commission in Johannesburg, Monday, 6 October 2014. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Johannesburg - Farm attacks are not racially motivated, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said on Monday.

“People went to farms to steal, motivated by greed,” researcher Johan Burger told reporters in Johannesburg.

He was speaking at the SA Human Rights Commission's national hearings on safety and security problems in farming communities.

He said racial insults were sometimes used during such crimes, but this did not mean race or politics were the motives of such attacks.

He said the phasing out of the commando system had created a vacuum which the current national rural plan was not addressing adequately.

The commandos were SA National Defence Force reservists assigned to ensure rural safety, disbanded by then-president Thabo Mbeki in 2003.

“The problem with the national rural strategy is that it is too broad and under-resourced,” he said.

He said no official reason was given for phasing out the commandos, but it was alleged they were aligned to right-wing groups.

“That is incorrect because black people were part of the commandos, although the management was mostly whites.”

Earlier the Agricultural Research Council said it spent R10 million per year on private security.

“We do experience robbery and theft in our facilities,” CEO Shadrack Moephuli said.

He said they had communicated farmers' safety concerns to the agriculture ministry.

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega was expected to represent the police at the hearing.

Sapa