300 farm attacks and murders in the Free State since 2016

Free State Agriculture (FSA) confirmed that during 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2021, 298 farm attacks, including 37 murders, had already taken place on agricultural land in the Free State. Agricultural communities are under siege by these types of serious violent crimes.

Dr Jane Buys, Safety Risk Analyst at FSA, mentions in her report that 143 commercial and emerging farmers were attacked during this period in which 16 were killed. The report also shows that 126 workers, including foremen, workers and / or security guards, were attacked, 14 of whom were killed. There were also 24 people who were attacked on farms and or smallholdings, of which 6 were killed. In seven incidents both producers and / or workers were attacked and in one incident both a producer and a worker were killed.

“Free State Agriculture has determined that almost 300 farms were targeted by an attack or murder in the five year period, which represents almost 4% of the Free State’s farming entities (7 951 according to Stats SA’s agricultural survey in 2018).” says Buys. “It can therefore also be mentioned that 71 of the 88 towns in the Free State’s agricultural communities have been affected by a farm attack in the past 5 years.”

When the statistics of the 2020-2021 financial year are compared with those of 2019-2020, it is clear that there was an increase of 5 murders (41.67%) and an increase of 14 farm attacks (22.95%). The number of farm attacks and murders is the highest in a period of 5 years in the Free State. “What is worrying is that the increase took place during the state of confinement during the Covid-19 pandemic where more visibility of the police and law enforcement was in place.” reports Buys.

Buys also points out that in 21 of the 73 farm attacks / murders during 2020-2021, between two and five victims were attacked / killed that included women, family members and / or children (34.43%). In the five-year period, eighteen (18) victims are older than 80 years, while 19 victims were under the age of 19 and therefore considered to be children. In 52.46% of farm attacks, victims were shot or sustained serious neck and head injuries by an average of three attackers operating per incident. This indicates the tremendous trauma that families and their communities are experiencing.

Jakkals le Roux, chairman of Free State Agriculture’s Rural Safety Committee, points out that 70 of the farm attacks and killings took place in 12 (23.35%) agricultural communities located on the RSA / Lesotho border. “The situation on the border remains worrying and is a major factor in unsafe agricultural communities.” Le Roux adds that FSA will continue to play a contributing role in raising awareness and empowering agricultural communities to create safer communities.

300 plaasaanvalle en moorde in Vrystaat sedert 2016

Vrystaat Landbou (VL) het bevestig dat daar gedurende 1 April 2016 tot en met 31 Maart 2021 reeds 298 plaasaanvalle, wat 37 moorde insluit, op landbougrond in die Vrystaat plaasgevind het. Landbougemeenskappe is onder beleg deur dié tipe ernstige geweldsmisdade.

Dr Jane Buys, Veiligheidsrisiko-analis van VL, noem in haar verslag dat 143 kommersiële en opkomende boere in dié tydperk aangeval is waarvan 16 vermoor is. Verder wys die verslag ook uit dat 126 werkers, wat voormanne, werkers en of sekuriteitswagte insluit, aangeval is waarvan 14 vermoor is. Daar is ook 24 persone wie op plase en of kleinhoewes woonagtig is aangeval, waarvan 6 vermoor is. In sewe insidente is beide produsente en of werkers aangeval en in een insident  is ’n produsent en werker albei vermoor.

“Vrystaat Landbou het bepaal dat nagenoeg 300 plase in die 5 jaar periode deur ’n aanval of moord geteiken is, wat nagenoeg 4% van die Vrystaat se boerdery-entiteite verteenwoordig (7 951 aldus StatsSA se landbou opname in 2018).” sê Buys. Dit kan dus ook genoem word dat 71 van die 88 dorpe in die Vrystaat se landbougemeenskappe die afgelope 5 jaar deur ʼn plaasaanval geraak is.

Wanneer die 2020-2021 finansiële jaar se statistieke met dié van 2019-2020 vergelyk word, is dit duidelik dat daar ʼn toename van 5 moorde was (41.67%) en ʼn toename van 14 plaasaanvalle (22.95%). Die getal plaasaanvalle en moorde is die hoogste in ʼn periode van 5 jaar in die Vrystaat. “Wat kommerwekkend is, is dat die toename gedurende die staat van inperking onder die Covid-19 pandemie plaasgevind het waar meer sigbaarheid van die polisie en wetstoepassing in plek was.” meld Buys.

Buys wys ook uit dat daar in 21 van die 73 plaasaanvalle/moorde gedurende 2020-2021, tussen twee en vyf slagoffers aangeval/vermoor is wat vrouens, familielede en of kinders ingesluit het (34.43%). In die vyf jaar periode is agtien (18) slagoffers ouer as 80 jaar oud, terwyl 19 slagoffers onder die ouderdom van 19 jaar was en dus geag kinders te wees. In 52.46% van plaasaanvalle, is slagoffers geskiet of het ernstige nek- en hoofbeserings opgedoen deur ʼn gemiddeld van drie aanvallers wat per insident opereer. Dit dui op die geweldige trauma wat families en hul gemeenskappe ervaar.

Jakkals le Roux, voorsitter van Vrystaat Landbou se Landelike Veiligheidskomitee, wys uit dat 70 van die plaasaanvalle en moorde by 12 (23.35%) landbougemeenskappe wat teen die RSA/Lesothogrens geleë is, plaasgevind het. “Die situasie teen die grens bly kommerwekkend en is ʼn groot faktor tot onveilige landbougemeenskappe.”  Le Roux sê dat VL sal volhou om ’n bydraende rol in die bewusmaking en bemagtiging van landbougemeenskappe te speel om veiliger gemeenskappe daar te stel.