Farm attacks rise with 60% this past decade – South Africa

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TLU SA is extremely concerned over the rise in and brutality of farm attacks in South Africa, with an increase of 60% in the past decade.

These statistics were announced today during the organisation’s presentation on farm attacks and murders today.

According to TLU SA’s official Incidents Report updated since 1990, 1 125 farm attacks were reported between 1990 and 1999. Between 2000 and 2009 an increase of 22% - 1 407 attacks – were reported and in the past nine years from 2010 to 2019 a rise of 60% - 2 616 attacks – were reported.

During the corresponding time farm murders increased from 637 (1990 to 1999) with 22% (799 murders) between 2000 and 2009. In the next nine years until 2019 there were 586 farm murders.

“These statistics are shocking. But for TLU SA these are not just statistics,” said Maj-Genl Chris van Zyl, deputy general manager of TLU SA. “It is 2 022 members of our farming community murdered since 1990. It is 5 148 times families and farmworkers feared for their lives during a farm attack.

But still it is not important enough for the government and President Cyril Ramaphosa to condemn this attack against farmers,” he said. “Just this year already there were various opportunities for the president to give farm attacks and murders the needed attention. The reasonable person can accept that he and in turn the ANC-government see these crimes as inferior and approves it.”

TLU SA is aware that crime across the country is out of control with 56 murders taking place every day. According to Dr Johan Burger of the Institute for Security Studies the past six years saw an increase of 17% in murders and more than 20 000 people murdered during 2017/18.

Dr. Burger today shed more light on the extent of crime in South Africa with a focus on the brutality of these crimes.

“The high rates of aggression and purposeful torture in farm attacks and murders, is what separates these crimes from other violent crimes,” said Maj-Genl Van Zyl. “There is a definite link to the land question. The agricultural sector should see safety as the most important common factor.”

In light thereof it is important for the farming community to know when and how to act during a farm attack and what the consequence of the act would be. Dr Llewellyn Curlewis, law expert from the University of Pretoria shared the reasonable person’s behaviour relevant to the common law.

According to Dr Curlewis a person can say they acted out of self-defence to protect him/herself, valuable property or another person, during a farm attack, if certain requirements were adhered to.

These requirements include that an attack was unlawful and aimed at protecting, as well as a real, immediate and imminent danger. It is important to note that the minimum amount of force should be used in such a situation.

TLU SA recommends, in light of these statistics, that the following points receive attention during the next conversation with the National Commissioner of Police during August: •An agriculture-friendly reservist system;
•The local integration of available resources;
•The reconfirmation of farm attacks and murders as priority crimes;
•Farm safety instead of farm attacks.

The farming community should further focus on using technology, communication and information; and the use of contingency plans as implemented by TLU SA already.