Restrictions on people’s movements during the various COVID-19-related lockdown stages last year appear not to have helped reduce the number of murders on South Africa’s farms and smallholdings.
In fact, according to statistics collected by TAU SA, 71 of these murders occurred nationwide in 2020, or a 26,8% increase on the 56 murders on farms and smallholdings during 2019 (2018: 54).
According to Chris van Zyl, TAU SA’s assistant general manager, the organisation defined farm attacks and farm murders as acts of violence against residents and workers on, and visitors to, farms and smallholdings.
TAU SA said in a statement that the organisation collected its data on these attacks and murders from a range of direct and indirect sources, and aimed to verify the accuracy as far as possible.
Its latest statistics showed that the 71 farm murders that the organisation recorded in 2020, occurred in 397 farm attacks during the same year (2019: 419).
Victims of these murders reportedly comprised 44 farmers, 13 spouses or other direct family members of farmers, nine workers, and five visitors.
Breaking down last year’s farm attacks and farm murders by province, the statistics revealed that Gauteng had 16 murders in 101 attacks (one murder per 6,3 attacks); KwaZulu-Natal had 15 murders in 33 attacks (one murder per 2,2 attacks); the Free State had 10 murders in 50 attacks (one murder per five attacks); Mpumalanga had eight murders in 45 attacks (one murder per 5,6 attacks); and the Eastern Cape had eight murders in 19 attacks (one murder per 2,4 attacks).
In Limpopo there had been seven murders in 56 attacks (one murder per eight attacks); the Western Cape had four murders in 22 attacks (one murder per 5,5 attacks); the Northern Cape had three murders in eight attacks (one murder per 2,7 attacks); and North West had zero murders in 63 attacks.
In a late December 2020 statement, Free State Agriculture expressed great concern about the escalation in the province’s farm attacks and farm murders during the period 1 April 2020 to 30 November 2020.
Free State Agriculture’s safety risk analyst, Dr Jane Buys, said the organisation had recorded nine farm murders in 53 attacks across the province during this eight-month period. Over the same period in 2019, Free State Agriculture recorded six farm murders in 34 farm attacks.
“It is important that farmers empower themselves, their families and workers, and reduce their vulnerability as far as possible by always being vigilant. It is extremely important that farmers form part of organised security structures in their area,” said Free State Agriculture’s regional representative, Jacobus Stroebel.