This is the message from civil rights organisation AfriForum who this week made the latest farm attack statistics for 2019 available during a media briefing. At the event a farm attack survivor shared horrific details of how she was attacked, shot and raped.
A total of 184 farm attacks including 20 farm murders have taken place thus far this year. Gauteng (51 attacks), North West (28 attacks) and Limpopo (27 attacks) are the provinces with the highest number of farm attacks, which include farm murders, but the number in the Western Cape increased drastically. “Attacks in the Western Cape increased extremely, in such a manner that more than double the number of attacks were reported from 1 January to 31 May 2019 compared to this period in 2018,” says Ian Cameron, AfriForum’s Head of Community Safety.
Cameron says one has to ask whether the murder of Stefan Smit, a farmer of the Western Cape, has something to do with land occupation. If the case was handled properly from the onset, would it have gone this far? “The fact that one of his friends confirmed that he received death threats, tells us that this was a risk for him. What is more concerning is that Smit was ill-advised by the institutions that were supposed to help him with the land occupation, which possibly could have led to a worsened situation.”
According to Cameron, AfriForum’s data indicates that the farm attackers do not always loot money, but people were badly hurt.
“It is also interesting that although people and institutions, like Kwanalu in particular, state in their reports that it is clear that farm murders are only socio-economically motivated. This is most definitely not the case. Apart from the fact that money sometimes plays a role, a more dangerous criminal is also involved with these attacks.”
If one looks at South Africa there is a tendency of murders being committed with knives or sharp objects, while the vast majority of farm murders are committed with firearms,” says Cameron.
“It is important that we not just stare at the statistics alone, as this causes one to become emotionally blunt. We have to remember that real people were involved and are sitting in the background, who were hurt terribly and must be going through severe trauma. That is why someone like the victim’s story should be heard. We have to ensure that people like her do not become part of the statistics.”
Not a conspiracy theory or an exaggeration
Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, says it is a great cause for concern that mainstream commentators and opinion shapers seem to actively concentrate on discrediting any attempts to make the cruelty and common occurrence of farm attacks be known, by calling it a conspiracy theory or an exaggeration. “Farm murders and attacks are serious crises. It is important that we communicate factually about it; it is however just as important that we acknowledge the extent of the crisis for what it is.”
If you would like to become involved in the safety structures in your community, send an email to [email protected].