Farm attacks rise by 60% this past decade – TLU SA presents bi-annual agriculture crime statistics

Attacks up but murders down compared to previous decade

DRONE VISUAL: A man being arrested by the police dog unit after a farm attack and community chase near Stutterheim in 2016. The suspect was captured by farmer Greg Miles using his radio-controlled drone-borne camera Picture supplied to Daily Dispatch

Agricultural union TLU SA has expressed extreme concern over the rise in and brutality of farm attacks in South Africa, which increased by 60% in the past decade.

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

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 – was reported and in the past nine years from 2010 to 2019 a rise of 60% – 2,616 attacks – was reported.

From 2010 to 2019,  2,616 attacks were reported 

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

“These statistics are shocking. But for TLU SA these are not just statistics,” said Maj-Gen 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 farm workers 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 said they are 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.

Burger 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 

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

TLU said in light of the above it was important for the farming community to know when and how to act during a farm attack and what the consequence of that action would be.

Dr Llewellyn Curlewis, a law expert from the University of Pretoria, shared the reasonable person’s behaviour relevant to the common law.

According to 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 as well as presenting a real, immediate and imminent danger. It is important to note that the minimum amount of force should be used in such a situation, he said.

TLU is calling for an agriculture-friendly reservist system

TLU SA recommends, in light of these statistics, that the following points receive attention during the next conversation with the National Commissioner of Police in 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 already implemented by TLU SA, the organisation concluded.

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