As the world focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic, there is another scourge which is plaguing the South African community. A scourge which sees the violent deaths of innocent lives.
This scourge is that of farm attacks. A crime which sees scores of South Africans murdered on a regular basis.
In February of this year, the AfriForum Research Institute released an analysis report of recorded farm attacks and farm murders which took place during 2019.
According to the report, farm attacks have been increasing from 2011 onwards. For the 2019 calendar year, the report states that 552 farm attacks were reported and confirmed.
“When comparing 2018 with 2019, 27% more farm attacks were recorded by AfriForum. Fifty-seven farm murders occurred during 2019, which is three more than in 2018,” the report reads.
Furthermore, the report claims that 905 victims were attacked in the 552 farm attacks that were analysed.
In 57% of incidents, only one victim was attacked, whereas two victims were attacked in 30% of incidents. Research further indicates that the more people present at the intended target, the less likely it is for an attack to occur.
In 66% of the incidents, the victims were the owners and the owners’ families. The number of workers attacked (26% of incidents) seems to have increased from past years.
The average age of victims is 55 years. The majority of victims (42%) are aged between 60 and 79 years. A significant 28% of victims are aged between 40 and 59 years.
Looking at the attackers, the AfriForum Research Institute noted that 1 575 perpetrators were reported as the total number of attackers who committed these crimes.
The average number of attackers per incident is three.
“It should be noted, however, that this number may be higher due to uncertainty from victims whether there were more attackers involved and/or present than they were actually aware of or whom they saw themselves,” the report states.
This is because it is apparently not uncommon for farm attackers to have lookouts stationed around the properties. Nor is it uncommon for them to have a getaway vehicle positioned out of sight of where the attack occurred.
The report further states that during the attacks, victims were overpowered, ambushed and surprised inside their place of residence in many of the cases.
The AfriForum Research Institute found that attackers gained entry by breaking open security doors, burglar bars, doors or windows, or through doors or windows that were left open.
Specific crimes committed were only reported in 239 (i.e. 43%) of incidents recorded. It can be assumed, however, that in the case of a serious crime it would have been recorded.
In the report, the AfriForum Research Institute notes that the percentage of cases (26%) where the attackers attempted to murder one or all of the victims is extremely worrying.
“This shows that the perpetrators intended to murder the victims, although the victims survived. The number of farm murders would have been higher if the attackers were successful in carrying out their intentions. In 9% of the incidents reported, one or more victims were murdered.”
Other information worth noting through the report is as follows:
- 18 females were raped during this period. In some cases, victims were raped by more than one attacker.
- One or more victims were kidnapped during the attack in 11 incidents.
- One or all of the victims were subjected to various means of torture in 22 incidents. Some of these included burning victims with plastic, clothing irons or boiling water, or being dowsed in petrol.
- Arson was committed by intentionally setting houses alight in three cases reported, twice with the victims locked inside.
Furthermore, the report shows the use of knives, pangas, axes and other sharp objects during attacks suggests that the perpetrators are willing and able to come within direct contact of the victims in order to cause harm.
These weapons are also preferred by some attackers as the risk of being heard would be less as opposed to using a firearm. Other weapons used included torches, sheep shears, screwdrivers and other tools.
With the number of farm attacks and murders on the increase, what can be done to curb the brutal violence?
John Moodey, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Community Safety, issued a statement on June 18, stating that the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is deeply concerned about the rise of farm attacks in Onderstepoort, North of Tshwane.
This follows seven incidents of farm attacks in 24 hours within a 15-kilometre radius at the Onderstepoort smallholding farms.
Moodey states cases of house robbery, attempted house robbery and attempted murder have been opened at the Pretoria North Police Station.
In one of the incidents, two people sustained head injuries. In another incident, an 18-year-old boy was shot in the neck.
“These incidents are some of many that indicate that farmers are under attack by criminals, yet the ANC-led government is doing nothing to ensure their safety,” Moodey says in his statement.
Moodey adds that the DA has been calling on the Gauteng ANC-led government to address the safety of rural communities. This is because the previous rural crime interventions proposed by government have yielded little to no success.
“We have tabled a motion in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) on violent crimes in the province, particularly crime against rural communities. In addition to this motion, we have also launched a petition on crimes in rural communities.”
Moodey states that it is high time the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko urgently intervenes. He feels the MEC should implement measures to ensure that our rural communities are kept safe.
Furthermore, the DA calls on MEC Mazibuko to prioritise farm attacks investigations. As well as to assist the police in these farm areas with additional resources so that they are better able to protect farm communities.
Earlier this month, a farmer hailing from Vryheid was attacked and brutally murdered on his farm. As was Midlands farmer Edi Neumeister, who was hacked to death on his farm.
What do you feel should be done to protect farmers, their families and their staff? Share your views and thoughts with us in the comment section below.