The unwelcome phenomenon of farm attacks and murders is growing in the Western Cape after being largely confined to the country’s northern, eastern and western provinces.
After last weekend’s attack on an elderly woman on a farm outside Stellenbosch, called “shocking” by opposition Freedom Front Plus (FF+) provincial leader Corne Mulder, he appealed to police and the agricultural community in and around Stellenbosch to co-operate to the full to ensure crimes of this nature were nipped in the bud.
The Stellenbosch attack on Susan Joubert (87) of the farm Aan-den-Weg was apparently carried out by at least three as yet unidentified men who stabbed and killed her dogs before attacking her and robbing her of jewellery.
This was the third attack on the Western Cape agricultural community since November when Joubert Conradie (47) was shot and killed on his farm at Klapmuts. Two weeks prior to that 46-year-old Mark Fagan of Klein Dassenberg was also shot and killed in a farm attack.
Mulder said there was – at this stage – no indication the incidents were linked or signalled the start of concerted attack on the province’s farming community, warning farmers and their workers to be more security conscious.
“At the same time I call on the SA Police Service to do everything possible to apprehend the perpetrators of these heinous crimes and make use of crime intelligence to prevent further attacks on farms. Plans have to be made to ensure Western Cape does not follow the same route as other provinces.”
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) late last year pointed out a lack of accurate statistics as regards attacks, murders and other crimes committed in rural areas was hampering police efforts to arrest suspects.
According to FF+ leader Pieter Groenewald farming in South Africa is a more dangerous occupation than being a policeman.
He told Parliament last year the world average for murders was seven for every 100 000 of population, in South Africa it was 33 for every 100 000. When it comes to police the number stands at 54 per 100 000 and for farmers it is 133 per 100 000.
In November Police Minister Fikile Mbalula met with the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) as one of a series of ongoing engagement with different components and stakeholders of South Africa’s broader agricultural community. The meetings are all aimed at curbing farm attacks and murders. He indicated a national imbizo would be held at “operationalise rural security”.