The 2009/2019 decade saw an increase of 86% in farm and rural attacks and murders compared to 1990/1999, according to the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU).
The Silverton, Pretoria-headquartered organisation monitors attacks on members and non-members using information from local farmer associations and organisations, police and community policing forums as well as farm watch units.
The TSU incident register recorded 1 125 farm attacks between 1990 and 1999. This grew to 1 404 – a 25% increase – in 2000/2009. Over the past nine years TSU personnel have recorded 2 616 attacks on farms, include farm owners and workers as well as buildings, implements and other equipment, an 86% increase.
The figures for farm murders over the same timeframes also show increases with 637 recorded in 1990/99, up by 25% to 799 in 2000/2009 and down in 2010/2019 to 586.
“The figures by themselves are shocking,” said TAU Deputy General Manager, retired Major General Chris van Zyl, adding they were 2 022 lives – “members of the national agricultural community”.
He further pointed out the statistics showed 5 148 times farm owners, their families and workers “feared for their lives”. Another concerning factor is torture being reported more often during farm attacks. This includes people burnt with irons and having limbs broken.
Van Zyl said the TAU was “fully aware” of South Africa’s national daily murder rate of 56. Quoting Institute of Security Studies (ISS) statistics he said there was a 17% increase in murders nationally over the past six years with the 2017/18 figure at “over 20 000”.
The TAU is planning to meet with senior SA Police Service management, including national commissioner Khehla Sithole this month. Planned agenda items include “an agriculture friendly police reserve system”; reconfirmation of farm attacks and murders as priority crimes and ensuring rural security rather than farm attacks and murders.