Makhura gave acknowledgement to the earnest of farm attacks and murders during his state of the province address and listed it as priority crimes. According to Makhura, a specialist unit will be tasked with the prevention of farm attacks and murders. Mokgoro in turn indicated that he will be liaising with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and legislative authorities more often to ensure the safety of famers and residents of rural areas.
For 2019 Gauteng is the province with the highest number of farm attacks in the country with 69 attacks, while Northwest with 32 attacks is also heavily affected according to AfriForum’s statistics. Both provinces reported four farm murders thus far this year.
Ivan Meyer, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, promised earlier this year after the murder of Stefan Smit to take steps to protect farmers. This includes the establishment of specialist units in rural areas, pressure on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to ensure the declaration of farm murders as priority crimes and opposing bail for those accused of farm attacks.
“It seems that the continued pressure and awareness regarding farm attacks by organisations such as AfriForum is finally reaping rewards, and that the authorities are systematically realising that farm attacks cannot simply be viewed as normal crime,” says Hillel Coetzer, AfriForum’s Head of Safety in the Northern Region.
“It is praiseworthy that the premiers and provincial ministers view farm murders as a priority crime while President Cyril Ramaphosa still remains silent thereon and even denies on international platforms that farm murders is a serious crisis in South Africa,” says Joseph Renaud, AfriForum’s Head of Safety in the Central Region.
Renaud emphasises the necessary role that civil institutions such as AfriForum must play to establish safety structures for farmers and communities to ensure the promotion of their own safety and defensibility within the framework of the law.
Meanwhile AfriForum also AfriForum welcomed the life sentencing of Jan Esterhuise, a farm worker from Sutherland after he was found guilty of Riana Louw du Toit’s murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances. She was stoned to death on the roadside between Sutherland and Merweville on 6 February 2018.