Police and AgriSA wrong about decline in farm murders - AfriForum

While the police and agricultural body AgriSA have found that farm murders have decreased to their lowest level in 20 years, lobby group AfriForum's deputy CEO Ernst Roets said on Thursday that there had been a significant increase this year. 

Roets, during the launch of his book Kill the Boer in Centurion, said that according to AfriForum's own statistics, there had been 34 farm murders and more than 210 farm attacks since the beginning of 2018. 

He said this was a 34% increase in the first six months of this year, compared to 2017.

In May, AgriSA released figures of farm murders and attacks which were based on police statistics, its own research and media reports. These showed a decline in farm murders, and a slight increase in farm attacks.

Read: Farm murders lowest in 20 years, 'remoteness' the reason for brutality

According to AgriSA's statistics, farm murders decreased from 66 recorded incidents in 2016/2017 to 47 in 2017/2018. This was less than a third of the highs recorded in the late 1990s, when 153 murders were recorded in 1997/1998.

The increase in attacks comes nowhere near the record high seen in 2001/2002, when 1 069 farm attacks were recorded. Farm attacks increased from 478 in 2016/2017 to 561 in 2017/2018.

Roets said on Thursday that farm attacks and murders were more than just ordinary crimes or murders. 

"Farm attacks are unique and farm attacks should not be considered as normal crimes. Farm attacks should be treated as priority crimes," he said. 

Roets said the biggest point of debate around farm attacks was their frequency. 

"If you want to compare the rate at which farmers are being attacked and killed, you need to compare your calculation, not to a rate at which people in South Africa are being murdered, but to a rate at which people in South Africa are being murdered, with the exclusion of social-fabric crimes."

ernst roets
"Kill the Boer" by Ernst Roets. (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

'Particularly vulnerable'

According to AfricaCheck, social fabric crimes are a category of contact crimes - like murder, attempted murder, sexual offences, assault GBH (grievous bodily harm) and common assault - where, in the majority of instances, the victim and perpetrator are known to each other. 

Roets said that, according to AfriForum's research, which looked at figures for 2016 and 2017, farm murder victims were also tortured during the attacks.

According to their research, out of the 74 people who were murdered, 13 were tortured.

He said this meant that 17.6% of the murdered farmer victims had been tortured. 

AgriSA Director for Rural Safety and General Affairs Kobus Visser said, at the release of the organisation's statistics in May, that farm attacks was one of agriculture's biggest challenges.

Read more: Farm attacks and murders: This is SA's most deadly province for farmers

"People who live on farms in rural areas are particularly vulnerable to armed farm attacks, where response times are lengthy because of the remoteness of farms," he said.

"This offers the attackers an opportunity to linger on the premises for longer, with a greater chance of the victim being subjected to a high degree of violence and brutality, compared to crimes in urban areas, where the police, security companies and neighbours arrive sooner to render assistance."

AgriSA said at the time that it was essential to have accurate statistics on farm attacks and farm murders to avoid making unfounded claims and stirring up emotions in the process.

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