Figures announced today: Farm murders and farm attacks rise again in 2016

The civil rights organisation AfriForum and the Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa (TAU SA) today announced a disturbing rise in farm attacks and farm murders for 2016 with the announcement of the official figures during a media conference in Centurion.

This rising trend has now already been observed for the sixth consecutive year. The 2016 figure of 64 murders has only been calculated up to 30 November 2016. According to Gen. Chris van Zyl, Assistant General Manager of TAU SA, December 2016 is already indicating a further increase with an estimated ratio of nearly one murder per day up to the present for the month, which makes the total farm murder figure for 2016 the highest for the past seven years.

“A further disturbing trend is the evident increasing use of technology by farm attackers. We have CCTV proof of a device used by farm attackers that represses radio and cell phone communication as well as alarms. This equipment falls in the same league as military equipment that requires an end-user certificate,” says Van Zyl.

Lorraine Claasen, Crime Analyst at the AfriForum Research Institute (ANI), indicated during the conference that she was able to identify certain patterns in her analysis of various farm attacks and murders. Amongst others that farm attackers strike in groups that vary from one to as many as 13 attackers per incident. Also that attacks are undoubtedly planned in detail and that the farmer specifically is targeted during an attack and is frequently the first person to be attacked or murdered. Various other trends observed by Claasen are contained at length in the report.

Ernst Roets, AfriForum’s Deputy CEO, said during the media conference that he is especially concerned about the potential connection that exists according to him between outrageous political utterances and farm murders.

“Currently a climate prevails in the country where it became popular to make racist and hate speech remarks against white people. Even though we are extremely careful making assumptions when it comes to farm murders and attacks, we view this possible trend in a very serious light,” Roets added.

Roets furthermore mentioned that it was gladdening though that Lt Gen Kgomotso Phahlane, Acting Police Commissioner, is showing greater willingness with regards to taking farm murder and farm attack figures into consideration.

Claasen also expressed her gratitude during the conference regarding the progress that was achieved this year with regards to police cooperation. She mentions that there is a greater obligingness to listen to complaints and problems, and that a platform was established in which information regarding farm murders and attacks could be exchanged.

“This relationship is decisive for us,” she says.

Claasen mentioned further that ANI is currently busy updating its data with the names of farm workers who were also the victims of farm murders. AfriForum is furthermore planning various campaigns and projects for 2017 to crack down on farm murders and farm attacks.

Read the report here.

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