70% of commercial farmers experienced crime in 2017

Seven out of 10 South African commercial farmers experienced crime in one form or another last year. The total direct cost of these crimes for the year amounted to more than R7,7 billion.

70% of commercial farmers experienced crime in 2017
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According to the recently released Agri SA 2018 National Agricultural Crime Sector Survey carried out by UNISA’s Bureau of Market Research, during 2017, 39,74% of SA’s commercial farms experienced livestock theft, 37,21% experienced theft of farm infrastructure, 34,74% theft of farm tools and equipment, 28,51% illegal hunting and theft of game, and 25,05% experienced robbery.

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“In fact, of the 70% commercial farmers who were crime victims in 2017, some had experienced a combination of the top crime categories on their farms. It is also important to note that violent crimes affected several farms in the country. Robbery, with its percentage of 25,05% tops the list, followed by assault [at 5,7%], attempted murder [at 1,3%], and murder [at 1%],” said the survey.

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The survey also found that “only” 25% of all crimes and 52% of “some” crimes on commercial farms during 2017 were reported to the police.

The main reasons given by commercial farmers for this included it being a waste of time or pointless (34,7%), that the police could not have done anything (19,1%), having had a previous bad experience with the police or criminal justice system (14,4%), not trusting the police (8%) and because of fear of reprisal (1,3%).

“The analysis shows that 63,3% of responding commercial farmers who experienced crime indicated that the culprits who committed crimes against them were never arrested,” reported the survey.

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The survey also found that while 70,4% of SA’s commercial farmers reported having good relationships with their employees and that only 6% of these farmers experienced grievances from their employees, only 55,5% of commercial farming operations kept a detailed register of all their livestock.

Furthermore, 48,7% of commercial farmers said they had a good working relationship with the police, 25,9% participated in local priority meetings with the police, 41,8% were in a farming community with an active Farm Watch System, and 36,2% implemented the Agri SA Farm Access Protocol.

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“The economic output loss to the South African economy owing to agricultural crime [in 2017] was approximately R18,92 billion….Bearing in mind that approximately 38 000 commercial farmers and their farm workers produce enough food for 57,5 million people, it means that one commercial farmer provides enough food for 1 500 people on a daily basis,” said the survey.

The survey added that this was why commercial farmers and their workers needed to “be protected as an asset”.

Download the “Crime statistics on farms confirm worrying extent” document.

Lloyd Phillips joined Farmer’s Weekly in January 2003 and is now a Senior Journalist with the publication. He spent most of his childhood on a Zululand sugarcane farm where he learned to speak fluent Zulu. After matriculating in 1993, Lloyd dreamed of working as a nature conservationist. Life’s vagaries, however, had different plans for him and Lloyd ended up sampling various jobs in South African agriculture before becoming a proud member of the Farmer’s Weekly team. Lloyd still thoroughly enjoys learning and writing about all aspects of national and international agriculture. He lives in Mooi River, KwaZulu-Natal, with his wife, Leigh, son, Matthew, daughter, Sydney, and their much-loved domesticated menagerie.