Ten reasons why farm murders should be prioritized

The murderers of Ernest (77) and Annetjie (76) van Rooyen were each handed two life sentences last week. Oupa Mokoena (47) and Ezekiele Mguni (30) murdered the couple in January of this year on their farm Somerset near Parys in the Free State. Ernest’s body was found on the floor of their farm store – he died of loss of blood. Annetjie was found in the freezer, where she had suffocated to death after being stuffed into it alive. In the same week the murderers were sentenced, Hennie Bentley (73) and Gerrit Myburgh (78) were murdered. Bentley died this weekend after his family was attacked on their farm outside Vanderbijlpark last week. Myburgh was murdered on his smallholding outside Heidelberg last Sunday evening.

Yes, the verdict and the sentence are good news. But whether this brought us closer to a solution for the brutal farm murder crisis in the country, is debatable. Yes, the sentences Mokoena and Mguni have to serve are a relief, and the detectives should be commended for enabling the court to come to its conclusion. But the completion of this individual incident brings us no closer to a solution for a growing crisis. Aftercare is important, but preventative care is even more important.

The only sustainable solution for farm murders is a pro-active strategy, which should be implemented by the Minister of Police. But to date the Minister is not only refusing to implement such a strategy, he also refuses to acknowledge that farm murders are a crisis. Motivation for prioritizing farm murders can be found in a myriad of reasons.

  1. Acknowledgement is keyIn spite of overwhelming evidence of a crisis, the Minister is refusing to acknowledge that there is a problem. A basic prerequisite for effective prevention of any extraordinary crime is that the facts should be acknowledged. As long as the Minister refuses to acknowledge farm murders as a crisis, a focussed counterstrategy will not be implemented. The first step is acknowledgement.
  2. A unique crime requires a unique counterstrategy
  3. Unusually frequent
  4. Unique levels of brutality
  5. Unique role in society
  6. Honouring a promise after the abolition of the commandoes
  7. Deprioritizing in spite of a sharp rise
  8. Double the number of police murders
  9. Justification of specific crime categories
  10. A political opportunity or a political embarrassment

Ernst Roets
Ernst is Deputy CEO of AfriForum
Follow him on Twitter at @ernstroets

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