While announcing that 184 farm attacks and 20 farm murders had taken place in South Africa since the start of the year, lobby group AfriForum has cautioned against making one dimensional conclusions about why farm attacks are committed.
The 184 attacks and 20 murders were recorded from January 1 to May 31 this year, according to AfriForum.
Furthermore, it said 51 incidents had occurred in Gauteng, making it the province with the highest number of attacks.
During a media briefing on Tuesday, AfriForum’s head of community safety Ian Cameron said that the North West (28 attacks) and Limpopo (27 attacks) joined Gauteng as the provinces with the highest number of farm attacks, which included farm murders. He added that the Western Cape was previously quiet in terms of farm attacks, but that their latest figures showed a drastic increase in the province.
“Attacks in the Western Cape increased extremely, in such a manner that more than double the number of attacks were reported from January 1 to May 31, 2019, compared to this period in 2018,” Cameron said.
AfriForum said it had recorded 17 farm attacks and three farm murders in the Western Cape.
Cameron said that it would show a blatant disregard for the seriousness of the crime to say that farmworkers weren’t affected in these farm attacks. According to their numbers, out of the 184 attacks, 113 farmworkers had been attacked, while 24 guests on the farms had been affected. In these attacks, 376 people were farmers and 12 people were foremen on the farms.
“It is crucial to mention that because, especially on social media, it’s as though there is a deliberate divide that creates the impression that only farmers are focused.”
Methodology and cause
To gather its information, the lobby group said it relied on police and community groups.
“All the statistics are either reported to us by police on ground level, or we then hear about it from our community safety structures,” Cameron told News24.
“I think we have about 136 farm and neighbourhood watches across the country and they obviously have their own network, and then our control room confirms and verifies all the details with the police and all relevant authorities.”
AfriForum deputy CEO Ernst Roets told media that, in terms of causes and reasons for farm attacks, they were cautious about making-one dimensional conclusions.
“If you were to say, farm attacks are politically driven, that would be false. If you were to say they are not politically driven, that would also be false. Because some of them are and some of them aren’t,” he said.
Roets added that, from their research, they have deduced that some farm attacks were motivated by socio-economic factors, but some weren’t. To prove this point, Roets said that in the 184 attacks that they had recorded, money was stolen in 61 cases. There had been no money taken in 67 attacks and, in 56 of the attacks, it could not be verified whether money had been stolen or not.
“Of the cases we know of, more than half of them, no money was stolen, despite in many of those cases, the opportunity being there to steal the money, the attackers didn’t steal money.
“The biggest mistake you can make in trying to determine the motive in a phenomenon like this is to reduce it to a single cause.”
Climate created for violence
However, despite speaking against deducing farm attacks and murders to a single cause, Roets said they were still concerned about the climate that had been created in South Africa.
“The climate in which violence towards farmers has been romanticised by very influential politicians,” Roets said in relation to EFF leader Julius Malema making comments about “slitting the throat of whiteness”.
But he added that it was not a problem just linked to the EFF, with President Cyril Ramaphosa saying that Malema should come home to the ANC after he made these comments.
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