Farm Attacks not motivated by politics, race or land, says KWANALU
The KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) have released their annual analysis of farm attacks and murders in KZN for 2016. The overwhelming conclusion reached is that socio-economic issues are driving these attacks. The report also highlights how crucial it is for farmers to be vigilant at all times taking every possible security precaution available to them to protect their households.
“The safety and security of our farmers is of paramount importance to us,” said Kwanalu CEO, Sandy La Marque.
“As an organisation, we have a duty to educate and empower our members. The purpose of this report supports that duty, by ensuring that our organisation, its members and associated security stakeholders are fully informed about the nature and circumstances of these crimes so that, together, we are better prepared to face them head on,” said La Marque.
Commenting on the tragic farm attacks that have taken place so far this year, La Marque offered her deepest condolences to the families of the victims and said: “In order to fight back we need to learn from the statistics presented in this report by tightening our security even further, working together in our communities and making sure it is a top priority.”
Breaking down statistics sourced from data collected by Kwanalu over the course of last year, the report offers KZN farmers insight, based on factual evidence, to help them understand what they are up against and how to deal with it. The data in this report is based on the SAPS Rural Safety Strategy’s definition of a farm as an “area of land and its buildings used for agricultural and livestock purposes” and a farm attack as “acts aimed at person/s residing on, working on or visiting farms and small holdings, whether with the intent to murder, rape, rob or inflict bodily harm”.
The statistics presented in the report suggest that there is no concrete pattern associated with these attacks and that farmers are vulnerable during the day as well as at night. Of the 34 incidents that took place in 2016, over 60% occurred at night.
In 15 of these 34 incidents, perpetrators gained access to the property and the victim/s through an open window or door. The report also indicates that in only nine of the 34 incidents, security measures were in place.
“We urge all our farmers to use every security measure at their disposal and regularly check that these measures are in working order and have not been tampered with,” said La Marque.
Commenting on motive, La Marque explained: “What is clear from the data in the report and evidence heard in court, is that the reason behind these attacks is not driven by race, politics or land but by socio-economic circumstances that lead to opportunistic crimes.”
“Having said this,” adds La Marque: “We are still extremely concerned about inflammatory and inciting statements made regarding race, politics and land and believe that those behind these irresponsible statements should be brought to account for inciting hatred and fuelling racial tension in an already tense environment.”
Of the 34 farm incidents that took place last year, five of these resulted in seven murders. Predominantly, attackers used firearms but were also armed with knives and used other means at their disposal to carry out their attack. Based on the evidence reported, the number of attackers involved in each incident is also on the rise with an average of three attackers per incident. “We’re not trying to breed fear,” insists La Marque, “crime in South Africa is a reality.”
“What is clear is that regardless or your racial orientation or whether you live in a city, town or on a farm, you are a potential target. Unfortunately the rural nature of farms, where the nearest neighbour is generally some way away, does make farmers even more vulnerable to attacks,“ she said. “It is therefore imperative that farmers take every precaution available to them when it comes to their safety and security and that of their family when they are in the house or out on the farm.”
La Marque commended the SAPS for treating farm attacks as a high priority crime, responding to incidents swiftly and professionally.
“Although we do see the response and reaction from the SAPS which these priority crimes warrant, we are still concerned about the level of petty crime in farming communities that goes largely unchecked. Petty crime is often a sign of something worse to come as perpetrators of these smaller, seemingly inconsequential crimes, not only get away with it but also have an opportunity to return to a property which they are now familiar with, with more than petty theft in mind,” said La Marque.
“Farmers need to be vigilant at all times and to look after themselves and those in their community by forging relationships and building trust within their communities,” said La Marque.
For more information visit www.kwanalu.co.za