Farm Attacks in South Africa under the spotlight

The misuse and poor administration of police intelligence, coupled with political interference, have led to escalating brutality in violent crime, including in attacks on farmers and people living in remote dwellings, specialists say.

Farm attacks have come under the highlight after seven incidents in 24 hours on smallholdings in the Onderstepoort area, north of Pretoria

In KwaZulu-Natal there have been two murders on smallholdings this year, with the most recent in Balgowan this month.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) mentioned that farm assaults were not a deliberate type of white genocide, as was perceived by many, but rather part of a bigger trend of escalating brutal violence throughout the nation.

ISS professional Gareth Newham mentioned poor administration of police intelligence coupled with political interference had left a loophole for criminals to take advantage of.

He mentioned there had been a 30% increase in violent assaults during home robberies but it was not exclusive to those living in rural dwellings but was occurring in the cities too.

“There are a really small number of people who are committing such robberies. If police can work with their crime intelligence counterparts to clamp down on these robberies, they would also be able to identify the networks linked to these crimes.

“We have now sufficient law enforcement officials and sources however on account of bad police administration, lack of intelligence-driven operations and political interference, more assaults are occurring in all sorts of households,” Newham mentioned.

He mentioned that these violent crimes towards people living and working on farms shared similarities with the trio crime classes of home theft, business theft and hijackings, that are handled as priority crimes.

“The syndicates that trade in stolen and unlawful items like firearms and jewellery have been left to run amok. It is not that they’re deliberately focusing on farmers, however as a result of police being preoccupied and mismanaged, the syndicates have unfold to the farming neighborhood,” he mentioned.

In keeping with AfriForum’s 2019 statistics on farm assaults and murders released in February this year, there have been 552 farm attacks and 57 farm murders.

Most attacks were committed between 6pm and 3am.

In keeping with the report, KZN, the Free State, Gauteng and Limpopo had the highest number of farm murders.

Free State had 11 murders followed by Gauteng and KZN which both had eight murders.

KZN had 39 farm attacks, an increase of 16 from the earlier year.

Police Ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba mentioned the SAPS was intent on tackling crime in rural and farming areas. This dedication was demonstrated by the revamping of the National Rural Safety Strategy plan now aimed toward enhancing community-police partnerships, she mentioned.

The police have additionally launched rural safety priority committees. This, Themba mentioned, would see an elevated police capacity and resources.

“These committees will monitor incidents of violent crime and along with police plan interventions.

“It’s going to additionally collaborate work at national, provincial and district levels to ensure safety in rural communities. Whether or not it’s on foot or by air, in vehicles, motorcycles, quad-bikes or on horses, this strategy will see crime-prevention measures go where they have never gone before by specializing in hot spots in rural areas to show the tide towards crime,” Themba mentioned.

KZN Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) chief executive Sandy la Marque mentioned whereas KZN had been “fortunate” to have good working relations with police and farm assaults and murders had been prioritised, there had been severe shortcomings akin to lack of rural patrols, a scarcity of vehicles and a scarcity of manpower and poor response time at some police stations.

“Kwanalu works carefully with the SAPS and we might encourage that local structures and interventions are also worked on collectively.

“All crime have to be reported in order that the SAPS can then give attention to hot spot areas of crime.

“Visible patrols and policing is urgently wanted however we additionally encourage all rural individuals and farmers to repeatedly search ways by which to enhance their personal and security at home,” La Marque mentioned.

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, who has not too long ago been tasked to head the party’s rural safety work stream, mentioned: “These aren’t crimes of passion, or drunkenness, or anger. They are coldly and carefully planned and executed invasions characterised by sheer brutality.”

She deemed the SAPS National Rural Safety Strategy a “dismal failure”.

“Minister (Bheki) Cele says we don’t need specialised rural safety units, because the Rural Safety Strategy is working.

“Tell that to the family of a man who was dragged to his death behind a truck. No, it is not working.”

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