26/02/2016. Sizakele Simelane the mother of murdered Nokuthula Simelane wipes her tears after seeing the four man accused of kidnaping and murdering her daughter. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

The South African Police Service will have to hand over the statistics on farm murders, stretching from 1990 to last year, to civil rights organisation AfriForum.

The high court in Pretoria on Friday ordered the SAPS to make these figures available within 30 days of the order being served on it.

AfriForum deputy chief executive Ernst Roets said the order will be served on Monday on the SAPS and the figures should thus be released within the next few weeks.

AfriForum turned to court after a letter Roets had sent to the national information officer of the SAPS in May last year, requesting the information, was simply ignored. The SAPS also did not pitch up in court yesterday to defend the application.

Roets said he had sent two requests to the police in the past for access to the statistics on farm murders.

He said AfriForum’s request was based on the need to obtain accurate information regarding the actual number of farm attacks and murders in South Africa.

Former national police commissioner Riah Phiyega during a media briefing in March last year mentioned that the police had been collecting these statistics and that the numbers were being updated for operational reasons. This was in spite of an announcement by the government in 2007 that it would no longer collect any statistics on farm murders.

Roets said the SAPS had publicly stated that the number of farm murders and attacks had declined over the past five years. According to him, this statement could only have been made if the SAPS kept the actual figures.

“We believe the number of farms murders and attacks has not declined. Even if it has, the problem has not been solved and requires more attention.”

Roets said that AfriForum keeps independent records of reported farm murders and according to these, there had been at least 316 attacks during the past five years.

“We believe it is of national importance that the incidence of farm attacks and murders be monitored correctly.

“This is to evaluate the ability of the SAPS to effectively protect citizens residing on farms.”

Roets said AfriForum would also use these figures in its campaign to safeguard farms and to establish which areas were the most vulnerable to farm attacks.

“We are delighted that we will now receive these figures, but we are sorry that we had to approach a court to compel the SAPS to divulge them,” Roets said.

[email protected]

Pretoria News Weekend