The safety and security of our farmers is of paramount importance to us. To us, one farm attack is one too many. Following the tragic farm attacks that have already taken place this year, Kwanalu remains committed to ensure our members and associated security stakeholders are fully informed about the nature and circumstances of these crimes so that, together, we are better prepared to face them head on.
To this end we have recently published our annual analysis of farm attacks and murders in 2016. This report aims to provide our members with insights based on key evidence collected from attacks, so that we may all learn from this information in order to safeguard ourselves from future attacks.
We cannot stress enough the need to be vigilant at all times and for you to take every possible security precaution available to protect your farms and households.
When is an attack most likely?
Statistics suggest that there are no concrete patterns associated with attacks that took place in 2016 and that farmers are vulnerable during the day as well as at night. What is notable is that of the 34 incidents that took place in 2016, nearly 40% occurred during the day. Whilst it is true that farmers are more vulnerable during the night, this statistic shows the importance of being aware at all times and not being complacent during daylight hours.
How did the perpetrators get in?
In 15 of these 34 incidents in 2016, perpetrators gained access to the property and the victim/s through an open (unlocked) window or door. Please regularly check that your security is in working order and that it has not been tampered with. In only 9 of the 34 incidents, security measures were in place. What this tells us is that farmers need to be more serious about their security and make it a top priority.
What is the motive behind these attacks?
What is clear from the data in the report and from evidence heard in court, is that the reason behind these attacks is not driven by race, politics or land but by socio-economic circumstances that lead to opportunistic crimes.
Cash and firearms are still the most popular items stolen during these attacks, with vehicles and electronic goods such as cell phones and laptops also being targeted. We urge our members again to avoid holding large amounts of cash on the premises.
An attack on a farmer is an attack on the farming community in general – not only is the victim’s family affected but the entire community is left shaken and devastated. Certainly, the level of violence associated with farm attacks only adds to the shock but it is imperative that people refrain from making or supporting inflammatory comments and statements inciting hatred and fuelling racial tension especially on chat groups and social media. This is counter-productive and serves no purpose other than to breed negativity, distrust and discord amongst the community when we should focus on working together instead.
What is the method of attack?
Predominantly, attackers used firearms but were also armed with knives and other means at their disposal to carry out their attack. Using the element of surprise – day or night, gave them the advantage.
How many attackers are there per incident?
Based on the evidence, the number of attackers involved in each incident is on the rise with an average of three attackers per incident.
What are the police doing about it?
The SAPS should be commended for continuing to treat farm attacks as a high priority crime and responding to incidents swiftly and professionally. However, we are still concerned about the level of petty crime in farming communities which goes largely unchecked. Petty crime is often a sign of something worse to come as perpetrators of these smaller, seemingly inconsequential crimes, not only get away with it but also have an opportunity to return to a property they are now familiar with, with more than petty theft in mind. We urge you to assist the police in this regard by reporting all crime on your farm – from produce theft to equipment and stock theft.
We’re not trying to breed fear but crime in South Africa is a reality.
What’s clear is that regardless of your racial orientation or whether you live in a city, town or on a farm, you’re a potential target. Unfortunately the rural nature of farms, where the nearest neighbour is generally some way away, does make farmers even more vulnerable to attack.
A lesson needs to be learnt from the statistics presented in this report by tightening security even further, working together in our communities by forging relationships and building trust, reporting all incidents, no matter how minor, to the local SAPS and making sure security is a top priority.
Security starts at home! You need to take responsibility for your security.
For further information visit the Member’s Area of the Kwanalu website and click on the Safety and Security section.