More need trauma counselling as farm attacks increase

A week-long trauma counselling workshop was recently held in Pretoria, with agricultural union TAU SA planning to hold more courses in the light of the frequency of recent farm attacks in SA.

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Eight women from across the country attended the course, and said they felt empowered to deliver an important service to victims of farm attacks in their communities. “So far, 35 people have died this year in farm attacks, an average of more than four deaths per month, and 124 farm attacks have occurred, an average of more than 15 per month, said TAU SA deputy president Henry Geldenhuys.

“Survivors of farm attacks are traumatised and, in most cases, there’s a need for trained counsellors who can help these people.” Gauteng had the highest number of attacks, with more than 19,8% of the 3 319 farm attacks recorded between 1990 and 2012 occurring there, according to Treurgrond: Die realiteit van plaasaanvalle, released in May this year.

Next come Mpumalanga (15,3%), North West (15,2%), Limpopo (12,7%), the Free State (11,8%), KwaZulu-Natal (11,5%), the Eastern Cape (7%), the Western Cape (4,7%) and the Northern Cape (1,6%). One of the most recent farm attacks was the murder of Newcastle farmer Timothy Green in KZN. He was shot dead when he disturbed burglars in his house.

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On 7 May, Ixopo farmer Peter Hackland was murdered in his home, and on 27 July, Wartburg farm manager George Fakude was shot in an ambush and left to die. In January, 77-year-old Parys farmer Ernest van Rooyen died of stab wounds and his 76-year-old wife, Annetjie suffocated to death after being stabbed and placed in a freezer.

Hettie Boshoff, who lives near Naboomspruit in Limpopo, said she attended the TAU SA course because “our people need help.” “Our area experienced two attacks this year,” she added. “In one incident, grandchildren saw their grandfather hurt and it was very traumatic for the family. “They feel unsafe in their homes. It really scares people,” said Boshoff.