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Free State staggers under farm murders

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The recent farm murder of Poenkie Bisset from Smithfield brings the number of farm murders in the Free State to ten. The Free State was rocked by 53 farm attacks on agricultural land, which included 9 murders, during April 1 to November 30, 2020. The Bisset murder at Smithfield is the 10th murder on agricultural land since April 2020.

According to Dr. Jane Buys, Safety Risk Analyst at Free State Agriculture (FSA), there were 34 farm attacks in the same period last year (2019) that included 6 murders. “This indicates an increase of 19 farm attacks / murders (35.9%) in the Free State.” says Buys.

She further mentions that in the majority of attacks / murders (28) cash, cell phones or firearms were stolen, while in three attacks vehicles were also stolen from victims. In nine incidents, nothing was robbed due to the quick response by the victims to resist. In three attacks, sheep and cattle were robbed and in three other attacks, attempts were made to rob animals (especially cattle across borders).

Buys also pointed out that most of the farm attacks or murders took place during November (12). An increase in farm attacks and murders is therefore detected in November 2020 and the run-up to the festive season could possibly contribute to a further increase.

Meanwhile, Jacobus Stroebel, regional representative of Free State Agriculture, says that “the brutal murder of Bissett once again shows the vulnerability of farmers, especially our older people.” It is important that farmers empower themselves, their families and workers and reduce their vulnerability as far as possible by always being vigilant.” He reiterates that it is extremely important that farmers form part of organized security structures in their area.

The three suspects arrested in connection with Bisset’s murder appeared in court again on 21 December.