Farm attacks rise with 60% this past decade – not just a white issue any longer

Prof Llewellyn Curlewis, Law Expert: University of Pretoria

Over the past decade, farm attacks and its subsequent rise in brutality have risen a whopping 60%.

As many as 1 125 farm attacks were reported between 1990 and 1999. Between the years 2000 and 2009 an increase of 22% – 1 407 attacks – were reported and in the past nine years from 2010 to 2019 a rise of 60% – 2 616 attacks.
During the corresponding time farm murders increased from 637 (1990 to 1999) with 22% (799 murders) between 2000 and 2009. In the next nine years until 2019 there were 586 farm murders.

“These are not just statistics,” said Maj-Genl Chris van Zyl, deputy general manager of TLU SA. “It is 2 022 members of our farming community murdered since 1990. It is 5 148 times families and farmworkers who feared for their lives during a farm attack and in many cases, as a consequence, lost their income. It is not only a white issue. Loyal black families were just as traumatised and without income.

TLU SA is aware that crime across the country is out of control with 56 murders taking place every day. According to Dr Johan Burger of the Institute for Security Studies, the past six years saw an increase of 17% in murders and more than 20 000 people of all races killed during 2017/18.

“The high rates of aggression and purposeful torture in farm attacks and murders is what separates these crimes from other violent crimes,” said Maj-Genl Van Zyl. “There is a definite link to the land question. The agricultural sector should see safety as the most important common factor.”

In light thereof it is important for the farming community to know when and how to act during a farm attack and what the consequence of the act would be. Dr Llewellyn Curlewis, law expert from the University of Pretoria shared the reasonable person’s behaviour relevant to the common law.  According to Dr Curlewis a person can say they acted out of self-defence to protect him/herself, valuable property or another person, during a farm attack, if certain requirements were adhered to.  These requirements include that an attack was unlawful and aimed at protecting, as well as a real, immediate and imminent danger. It is important to note that the minimum amount of force should be used in such a situation.

TLU SA recommends, in light of these statistics, that the following points receive attention during the next conversation with the National Commissioner of Police during August:

  • An agriculture-friendly reservist system;
  • The local integration of available resources;
  • The reconfirmation of farm attacks and murders as priority crimes;
  • Farm safety instead of farm attacks.

The farming community should further focus on using technology, communication and information and the use of contingency plans as implemented by TLU SA already.

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