Farm attacks on the rise in the Free State

According to statistics released by Free State Agriculture’s Safety Desk, 79 farm attacks took place in the province in 2015, compared to 36 in 2013 and 52 in 2014.

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Some 22 murders were recorded on Free State farms last year, of which 14 involved farm workers and children. In accordance with SAPS figures released in September 2015, the FSA statistics also indicated an increase in house robbery.

“It is clear that attacks on farmers, their families and their workers are on the increase” and “active action is needed by government and the police to effectively address this,” said a FSA press release.

A total of 164 suspects were arrested in 57 farm attacks from 2013 to 2015, an average of three per incident. In 2015, a total of 80 suspects were arrested in 29 incidents.

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The increase was “very worrying, especially taking into account the challenges that rural Police stations experience with regards to vehicles and manpower,” said Tommie Esterhuyse, chairperson of FSA’s Law and Order Committee. FSA is in continuous contact with the police’s top structures in an attempt to address the shortcomings in rural areas.

Another issue that has been under discussion for a long time is the establishment of an intelligence structure by government and the SAPS for the Rural Safety Strategy in order to be more proactive in the fight against crime.

More than 10 farm attacks were prevented in 2015 due to co-operation between the SAPS and Free State Agriculture’s safety structures. “Given the shortcomings that exist, action and co-operation between safety structures and the police have become essential,” said Esterhuyse.