Farm murders on the decrease, Parliament told

2016-08-26 15:53

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Cape Town – Farm murders and violent incidents at small holdings were in the spotlight during a Parliamentary meeting on Friday.

The police committee received presentations from the SAPS, the SA Human Rights Commission as well as the African Farmers Association of SA (AFASA) on the prevalence of farm attacks.

While farm murders were still a problem, the rate of these killings had decreased since 2010, the committee heard.

In the 2010/11 financial year, 80 people were killed in farm-related attacks, while 49 people were killed during the 2015/16 year. 

The committee was told that reports of violent incidents on farms and smallholdings had decreased between 2010 and 2016.

Between 2010/11 there were 532 incidents with 192 in Gauteng and 135 in the North West.

No deterrents to crime

During the 2015/16 year 446 violent incidents were reported, with 165 in the North West.

Presenting to the committee, the South African Human Rights Commission's Dr Danny Titus said the criminal justice system does not provide any deterrent to crime.

"When we observe the brutality of the killings it is clear that there is no respect for life and that perpetrators operate with impunity," he said.

He said farmers were perceived as soft targets where easy money would be obtained with ease.

The value of agriculture in society was not understood and acknowledged.

"Breaking the law has become a way of life in our country," he said. 

Black farmers also affected

Titus told the committee that the perception that violent farm crimes only affected white farmers was not true.

Black farmers were equally affected, he said.

AFASA's Aggrey Mahanjana echoed the sentiments.

He said while contact crimes were not common within black farming communities, there were incidences of murder in cases where, for instance, there were disagreements between employee and employer.

There were also cases of neighbouring farmers killing each other over animals, he said.

But the crime that topped the list, he said, was stock theft, which had serious financial ramifications for small holder farmers.

Help from 'a little torture'

Mahanjana lamented the quality of police officers sent to rural areas to deal with farm murders.

"How do you recruit someone who is overweight? How are they going to run after criminals," he said.

He pointed out that in the past police were able to arrest perpetrators quickly, with help from "a little torture".

Not that he was calling for that to come back, he quickly clarified. He was merely making an observation; police now had their hands tied when dealing with criminals.

"The law protects the criminals more than the police these days," he said.

Read more on:    parliament  |  saps  |  cape town  |  farm murders
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