It’s taken 11 years but the persistence of Freedom Front Plus MPs has paid off with statistics on farm attacks and murders again being made public knowledge.
Pieter Groenewald, MP and party leader, has welcomed the decision by Police Minister Bheki Cele and National Police commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, to release this information “after 11 years of silence”.
“The last time these statistics were disclosed was in 2007. The FF+ continued to request the figures by way of parliamentary questions, and answers have finally been provided,” he said in Cape Town.
“In essence, the party asked for the number of attacks and murders in every province since 2012 to be disclosed. From the answer it can be gleaned that attacks increased to 561 for the 2017/18 year, while there was a decrease in attacks over the previous three years.
“The figures show over the six years since 2012, there were 3 059 attacks in total, on average 509.8 a year, in which 338 people were killed averaging 56.3 a year.”
The province recording the highest number of attacks over this timeframe was North West with 772 followed by Gauteng with 644. The highest number of murders in this time was in Gauteng (69), followed by KwaZulu-Natal and North West, with 61 each.
Previously MPs were told the SA Police Service (SAPS) did not keep separate statistics for rural and urban attacks and murders. Organisations including the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) and AfriForum recorded attack and murder incidents reported to them from members nationally.
While acknowledging these as being in the public interest, Groenewald pointed out “government statistics on these issues will surely carry more weight than those of other institutions”.
The release of the statistic comes on the heels of an attack on a couple, both aged 75, on their farm in the Hertzogville district of Free State. They are both recuperating in a Bloemfontein hospital.
Jan van Niekerk of the FF+ in Free State said the swift response by police, including the use of two helicopters, which led to five suspects being arrested, was welcome.