Report: big decrease in farm attacks

2015-03-03 00:00

MURDERS and attacks against farmers, their employees and the agricultural sector in KwaZulu-Natal at large have shown a marked decrease in 2014 compared with the same period in 2013.

This is according to figures released by the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural ­Union (Kwanalu) in a crime-statistics document presented to its members.

The report indicates a massive ­decrease of 50% in farm murders and 40% in farm attacks in 2014 versus the 2013 figures, painting a cautiously ­positive picture for the KZN farming sector in 2015, according to a statement from Kwanulu yesterday.

In 2014, two incidents resulting in five murders, and 30 attacks, took place on farms KZN, as opposed to 10 murders and 47 attacks in 2013. This report follows Deputy Agricultural Minister Bheki Cele’s statement in January in which he said that attacks on farms, which often result in the murder of farm owners, have nothing to do with the victim’s race.

“Whether the victims are white, black, yellow, green or purple, we have seen farmers coming under attack and we treat it as such. In our territory of ­farming, we do take it seriously. We would like to see everybody deracialising these attacks,” Cele told the media.

Another positive for the sector is that of the five murders committed against farmers in 2014, one has led to the ­offender been sentenced to life imprisonment of plus 23 years, with the other four cases culminating in arrests, two of which are awaiting trial dates.

Referring to the conviction of 23 years for the perpetrator of the murder of ­Ixopo farmer Peter Hackland in June 2013, Kwanalu CEO Sandy la Marque said prosecutors on the case believed the harsher sentences imposed were due to evidence provided in aggravating ­circumstances by the union.

“We are cautiously optimistic at this stage. We at Kwanalu encourage farmers to report all crimes to the relevant ­authorities,” she said.

However, in spite of the drop in crime figures, La Marque cautioned that any crime against farmers has a serious ­impact on much more than just the ­devastating loss of life.

“Any crime, even if crime levels are down, leads to instability in the farming fraternity which in turn has a negative impact on investment. So while we are pleased with the drop in figures we ­condemn any and all farm attacks,” La Marque said.

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