KZN farm attack stats smash racial-motivation argument
A provincial audit has found that such attacks in the province are the lowest in 16 years
Recent statistics by the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) have painted a contrary view to the politically clouded debate on farm attacks in the province, with 2018 figures being the lowest in 16 years.
The report found the 24 farm attacks and one murder in the province were motivated by socioeconomic issues and had no direct link to racial and political issues such as land expropriation without compensation, as had been alleged on social media under the banner of “white genocide”.
According to the statistics, the most attacks, 95, were recorded in 2002, with 20 murders in 2003.
“We have a duty to empower farmers with knowledge and fact-based statistics with our annual analysis of farm attacks and murders to ensure our members and associated security stakeholders are fully and correctly informed about the nature and circumstances of crimes that have taken place in farms in the province, so that they are even better prepared,” said Kwanalu chief executive Sandy la Marque.
“What is clear from the data in the 2018 report is that the reasons behind these attacks, as in the case of previous years, are not motivated by race, land or politics but rather by socioeconomic circumstances that lead to opportunistic crimes,” she added.
The report, which collected data between January 1 and December 31 in commercial farming areas, also found there were inadequate security measures in some of the targeted places and that perpetrators were not afraid to attack in daylight.
“We urge all farmers to use every security measure at their disposal and to regularly check that these measures are in working order,” said La Marque.
Despite the report attributing the attacks to socioeconomic issues, Afrikaner-interest group AfriForum believes it is “uncharitable” to only attribute it to a single issue.
The organisation said it hadn’t looked at the report in great detail, but at face value the numbers seemed plausible.
“We have to look at the methodology. A lot of the research on this has been flawed because it looks at a singular issue. I am not sure if this is the case with this report,” said AfriForum CEO Ernst Roets.
Roets argued it was also important to understand the nuance in why farm attacks occurr.
“We mustn’t reduce it to a singular issue because you could attack a farmer because you are poor and you were abused and you are racist,” he said.
He also said it was important to note that the current political climate could also contribute to the violence on farms.
“The bigger issue is not the motive; what is important is the political climate or narrative where you have politicians singing ‘kill the farmer’,” he said.
The organisation said it hoped the data would equip farmers and affected stakeholders with relevant and factual information about farm attacks.
The report also found:
Most attacks occurred on Tuesday or Thursday;
Half the attacks occurred in farmhouses, seven in farmyards and five on an actual farm;
A breakdown of weapons used were 14 firearms, four knives/axe/bush knives and six “other”.
“The total number of attackers in the 24 cases are calculated at 74, with the primary target indicating firearms and/or cash from wages or stock sales,” said La Marque.
“From this data, we reiterate the need for farmers to remain vigilant at all times and look after themselves and those in their community by forging relationships, joining their local farmers’ associations, and building trust within local communities.”..