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Summary of Ecology of Peace Radical Honoursty Factual Reality Problem Solving: Poverty, slavery, unemployment, food shortages, food inflation, cost of living increases, urban sprawl, traffic jams, toxic waste, pollution, peak oil, peak water, peak food, peak population, species extinction, loss of biodiversity, peak resources, racial, religious, class, gender resource war conflict, militarized police, psycho-social and cultural conformity pressures on free speech, etc; inter-cultural conflict; legal, political and corporate corruption, etc; are some of the socio-cultural and psycho-political consequences of overpopulation & consumption collision with declining resources.

Ecology of Peace RH factual reality: 1. Earth is not flat; 2. Resources are finite; 3. When humans breed or consume above ecological carrying capacity limits, it results in resource conflict; 4. If individuals, families, tribes, races, religions, and/or nations want to reduce class, racial and/or religious local, national and international resource war conflict; they should cooperate & sign their responsible freedom oaths; to implement Ecology of Peace Scientific and Cultural Law as international law; to require all citizens of all races, religions and nations to breed and consume below ecological carrying capacity limits.

EoP v WiP NWO negotiations are updated at EoP MILED Clerk.

Friday, October 9, 2009

SA Farm Attack Report [19]: Summary of the Report

Report of the Committee of Enquiry into Farm Attacks, 31 July 2003

Report of the Committee of Enquiry into Farm Attacks

31 July 2003



Farm Murders in South Africa (Carte Blanche 1/2)

Farm Murders in South Africa (Carte Blanche 2/2)

The farming community has been plagued by farm attacks for many years. It seems that farm attacks have been increasing, and according to available statistics there were 6122 between 1991 and 2001, resulting in 1254 persons being killed. During 2001 there were 1011 farm attacks and 147 persons were killed. The farming community called on the Minister for Safety and Security to take steps, and he responded by instructing the National Commissioner of Police to appoint the Committee of Inquiry into Farm Attacks.

The members of the Committee are Adv C.F. du Plessis (SC), Ms M.E.A. de Haas (senior lecturer at University of Natal), Ms J. Dhlamini (senior researcher at Technikon SA), Ms D. Mistry (senior researcher at Technikon SA), Prof C.J. Moolman (University of the North), Mr L. Rasegatla (Secretary for Safety and Security), Adv M. Schönteich (senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies) and Ms H.C. van Wijk (traumatologist at Rand Afrikaans University).

The terms of reference of the Committee were ‘ to inquire into the ongoing spate of attacks on farms, which include violent criminal acts such as murder, robbery, rape, etc., (and) to determine the motives and factors behind these attacks and to make recommendations on their findings. The inquiry also had to include the following: review of court cases; interviews with sentenced persons; interviews with the farming community, including victims; interviews with investigating officers; and interviews with any other person or institution which the Committee may deem necessary for the purpose of their report.’

The official definition of farm attacks is as follows: ‘Attacks on farms and smallholdings refer to acts aimed at the person of residents, workers and visitors to farms and smallholdings, whether with the intent to murder, rape, rob or inflict bodily harm. In addition, all actions aimed at disrupting farming activities as a commercial concern, whether for motives related to ideology, labour disputes, land issues, revenge, grievances, racist concerns or intimidation, should be included. Cases related to domestic violence, drunkenness, or resulting from commonplace social interaction between people are excluded from this definition’. Although the definition has shortcomings, the Committee decided to use it.

The Committee gathered inputs and other information in various ways:
  • The Committee heard oral submissions during formal sittings in Pretoria.
  • Interested persons and bodies were invited to submit written submissions.
  • Interviews with other persons who could make relevant contributions were conducted. Interviews were conducted with victims, perpetrators, investigating officers and state advocates.
  • Various areas were visited in field trips by smaller groups to obtain firsthand information, mainly on the question of land occupation.
  • The very large volume of literature on farm attacks already in existence was perused. This included articles, monograms, reports, newspaper articles, etc.
  • The Committee reviewed and analysed the statistical data supplied by the SAPS and other bodies.
  • Police dockets, files of various Directors of Public Prosecutions and other official documentation relating to court cases, such as court records and judgements, were perused.
  • Case studies of specific incidents of farm attacks were conducted.


It has proved to be very difficult to obtain accurate statistics on farm attacks. The South African Agricultural Union (now Agri SA) started collecting statistics on farm attacks in 1991. Because of the increasing incidence of farm attacks, the Crime Information Analysis Centre (CIAC) began collecting statistics in 1997, and the next year the National Operational Coordinating Committee (NOCOC) started doing the same, for operational purposes. It would seem that the statistics are not very reliable, especially for the earlier years. Since 2001, however, the CIAC and the NOCOC have been collaborating very closely in an effort to make the statistics as accurate as possible.

In terms of these statistics, farm attacks have shown an increase from 327 incidents in 1991 to 1011 incidents in 2001. The SAAU figures show a drop in farm attacks during 1996 and 1997, to be followed by a sharp increase in 1998. For certain reasons the Committee is not satisfied that those figures are correct. Murders during farm attacks increased from 66 in 1991 to 142 in 1998, and thereafter remained virtually constant until 2001. The average murder rate has therefore been dropping since 1998, and stood at 14.5% in 2001 (i.e. one murder for every 7 attacks). The provisional statistics for 2002 show exactly 1000 farm attacks, and only 112 murders (one murder for every 8.2 attacks). Murders during farm attacks in 2001 constituted about 0.69% of all murders in South Africa, and rapes about 0.13%.

Some 62.3% of all attacks in 2001 took place on farms and 37.7% on smallholdings. An analysis of the figures for the previous years seems to indicate that the proportion of farm attacks taking place on smallholdings has been increasing.

Farm attacks during 2001 were spread out fairly evenly throughout the year, with a slight decrease in December and January. This phenomenon is unexplained. Attacks could occur on any day of the week, although there was an increase on Fridays, possibly because farmers often have large amounts of cash ready for the workers’ wages on that day. About one third of attacks took place in the evenings. The rest were spread out through the day, with the least occurring during the night.

About half of all farm attacks took place inside the house, and about a third just outside or in the immediate vicinity. The rest took place elsewhere, such as at a farm stall or on the farm road.

There were 1398 victims of farm attacks in 2001. Of those 147 or 10.5% were killed, and 484 or 34.6% of the victims were injured. About 12.3% of the female victims were raped. It should be noted that 71% of all rape victims were black. If one looks at the previous four years, it would seem as if the proportion of white rape victims, as against black rape victims, has decreased.

The attackers used firearms in 63.8% of the incidents in 2001. A variety of other weapons were also used, although in 11.7% of the cases the attackers were actually unarmed.

Money was robbed in 31.2% of the cases, firearms in 23.0%, and vehicles in 16.0%. Other popular items were cellular telephones and other valuables. There is a very common misconception that in a large proportion of farm attacks nothing is stolen. That is not so: investigations by the Committee have shown that various items are stolen in by far the greater majority of cases, and, in those cases where nothing is taken, there is almost always a logical explanation, such as that the attackers had to leave quickly because help arrived.

The Committee identified some 2 644 cases on the NOCOC database for 1998 to 2001 where the apparent primary motive was obvious. In 89.3% of those cases the motive was clearly robbery, in 7.1% it was some form of intimidation (such as crops or buildings being burnt down), in 2.0% some political or racial motive could be discerned, and in 1.6% it was labour related, such as a dispute over wages. In those cases where intimidation, political or labour related motives were present, robbery was almost always committed as well. In about 900 other cases on the database there was either another motive present, such as rape, or apparently nothing had been stolen. Upon closer investigation, it was established that in almost all the latter cases something had in fact been stolen, of that there was another rational explanation for the fact that nothing had been taken.

Of the 1398 victims in 2001, 61.6% were white, 33.3% black, 4.4% Asian and only 0.7% coloured. If one looks at the previous four years, it would seem as if the proportion of white victims are decreasing and the black victims increasing.

About 37.1% of the victims in 2001 were 39 years old or younger, 34.4% were between 40 and 59, and 28.4% were 60 years or older. Some 59.2% were male, and 40.8% female. The farmer or manager and his dependant constituted 69.7% of the victims, while farm workers and their families made up 29.5%. A few visitors to the farms also fell victim to attacks.


Farm attacks selected by the Committee for in-depth studies are all of a very serious nature. Most cases in general are not as serious as those in the case studies, and they are therefore not necessarily representative of all farm attacks. There are other common misconceptions as well, e.g. that rapes are common during farm attacks, that all victims of farm attacks are white, or that little or no attention is given to black victims of farm attacks, etc.

It might therefore be useful to look at a sample of farm attacks in general. The Committee therefore decided to put a synopsis of all 82 cases on the NOCOC database for December 2001 in the Report. (That was the last month on the database that the Committee used.)

In the 82 incidents there were approximately 126 victims. (The exact number is unknown.) Fourteen or 11.1% were killed, a little more than the 10.5% average for the whole year. Forty three (34.1%) were injured, the average for the year being 34.6%. In terms of fatalities and injuries it was therefore a very average month. There were six rapes (4.8%), while the average for the year was 5.0%. (There was also one attempted rape.)

Of the 126 victims only 56 (44.4%) were white, which was considerably lower than the annual percentage of 61.6%. The reason may be partly that in some cases a large number of (black) farm workers were present and were also held up while the (white) farmer was being robbed. They were therefore also regarded as victims. Of the 56 white victims, 11 (19.6%) were killed and 26 (46.4%) injured. Of the 68 black victims 3 (4.4%) were killed and 17 (25.0%) injured. Of the 6 females raped, two were white. The phenomenon that a greater proportion of white victims are killed or injured during farm attacks, was detected by the Committee on the basis of other statistics as well, although, as pointed out above, the December figures may be skewed somewhat because of the presence of so many ‘passive’ black victims in some cases.

In about half of the cases, the victims were overpowered by the attackers inside their own homes or in the immediate vicinity. This happened in the case of 25 ‘white’ homes and 15 ‘black’ homes. There are also certain other recurring scenarios in the examples, that the Committee came across frequently in other case studies as well, that can be highlighted:
  • The farmer is ambushed on his return to the farm or smallholding.
  • The farmer withdraws a large amount of money at the bank and is followed by the attackers and overpowered. The farmer is attacked in his office where there is a large amount of money.
  • The security guard is attacked while protecting the farm.
  • The domestic worker in the farmstead is attacked while her employer is absent.

From the above it is clear that the December 2001 statistics correspond to a large degree with the statistics for the whole year. That is one indication that the examples are a valid sample of farm attacks in general, committed during 2001. The 82 cases confirm many of the conclusions that can be drawn from looking at farm attacks in general. Farm attacks can take many forms but certain patterns can often be discerned. In fact, the similarity between some farm attacks is quite noticeable. These recurring patterns enable one to generalise on the nature of farm attacks and to take preventative measures on that basis.


The agricultural unions submitted a list of cases of farm attacks that they thought should be specially investigated, including cases where the motive might have been something other than mere robbery, and cases where there had been extreme and gratuitous violence. The Committee itself also drew up a list of cases from various sources which warranted further attention. As a basic source of information the Committee used the NOCOC database of more than 3500 cases for 1998 to 2001.

Upon further investigation a very large proportion of these cases turned out to be nothing more than ordinary robbery or attempted robbery, albeit often very violent. Nevertheless, the Committee then made a random selection of 45 cases to be studied in detail. In addition, the Committee also looked at a criminal gang that terrorised smallholdings in the De Deur area in 1995 and 1996. For the case studies the Committee perused the police dockets, the files at the offices of the various Directors of Public Prosecutions and the court records. In many cases interviews were also conducted with investigating officers and prosecutors, and in some cases the victims and perpetrators were also interviewed.

In the Report 41 of the case studies are described in fairly great detail. It would be impossible to understand the emotions and anger created by farm attacks amongst the farming community without looking at the details of specific cases. Furthermore, some publications, and specifically the Human Rights Watch report Unequal protection: the State response to violent crime on South African Farms, have avoided describing those serious cases at all.

The oldest farm attack that the Committee could get relatively full information about was that in which Mr Gustav van Aart was killed in the Free State in 1991. There are also a few cases dating from 1992, 1994, 1995 and 1997, but most cases date from 1998 onwards. The case studies include some of the well known cases often referred to by commentators on farm attacks.

The selection of cases can be criticised on three grounds: firstly almost all of them fall in the category of very serious farm attacks; secondly, there were relatively few black victims involved; and thirdly, only two of the attacks occurred on smallholdings. Nevertheless, although the 45 case studies cannot be regarded as a valid sample of farm attacks in general, they were analysed by the Committee to discover common features. However, the frequency of a certain set of circumstances in the case studies should not be taken as an indication of its incidence in general. For example, the proportion of cases where there are fatalities, or overt political overtones, is much smaller amongst farm attacks in general than in the case studies.

In 7 of the 45 cases there was evidence that the attackers had prior knowledge of the circumstances obtaining on the targeted farms or smallholdings, while in 6 cases they had reconnoitred the areas. In two cases they approached the farm on some innocent pretext, such as wanting to buy something. In nine of the cases the victims were ambushed away from the farmhouse, perhaps while travelling along the road, while in eight cases the attackers broke into the house while the owners were away and waited for them to return. In four cases the employees or other inmates of the house were overpowered and tied up first by the attackers, who then waited for the farmer to return. In two cases the attacks were thwarted, while in the rest of the cases the victims were overpowered inside the house. In 26 (57.8%) of the case studies the attack took place inside the house, compared to 50.8% for farm attacks in general during 2001.

In the 45 cases there were a total of 110 victims, with an average of 2,4 victims per case. The average for farm attacks in general in 2001 was 1.4 victims per incident. In all but 8 of the cases murder was committed, a total of 49 (44.5%) of the victims being killed, including a young girl. This is much higher than the national average of 10.5% for 2001, which emphasises the seriousness of the case studies. In two cases the victims were killed while trying to flee from the attackers, in four cases they were killed while offering some resistance, and in at least six cases the victims were killed execution style, sometimes even with their hands tied behind their backs. In a few cases there was some logical reason for killing the victims, such as to prevent later identification, but in no less than 32 instances (71.1%) it would seem that there was no real reason for killing the victims. Eight of the victims were black and two coloured. One black and one coloured victim were killed.

In the case studies six of the victims were raped, making up 5.5% of all the victims or 11.1% of the 54 female victims. This corresponds very well with the general figures of 5% and 12.3% respectively. One of the victims raped was a young girl, and one was a coloured farmwife. In fact, most of the rape victims of farm attacks in general during 2001 were black women.

Twenty two (20.0%) of the victims were assaulted, the severity of the injuries varying from slight to very serious. This compares to 34.6% of victims assaulted in farm attacks in general during 2001. The reason for the low percentage in the case studies is probably that so many victims were killed. Three of the injured victims were black. One young girl was injured very seriously.

The ages of 80 of the victims are known. Seven (8.6%) were under 20 years, 11 (13.8%) were between 20 and 39 years, 28 (35.0%) were between 40 and 59 years, and 34 (42.5%) were 60 or older. The youngest was 5 years of age and the oldest 86. (In two cases there were also babies, but they are discounted for statistical purposes.) One can therefore see the large preponderance of middle aged and especially elderly victims. The percentages in each category for farm attacks in general are 5.9%, 31.2%, 34.4% and 28.4%. The victims’ ages in the case studies therefore tended to be older. It may therefore confirm the impression of the Committee, for which there is no objective data at the moment, that elderly victims are more likely to be killed than their younger counterparts. The reason may have to do with the relative frailty of the elderly or the fact that some of the elderly victims are less able to handle the situation during a farm attacks. In one of the case studies, which the Committee thought appropriate not to identify, the son was overpowered and tied up. When the father then arrived, he started an altercation with the attackers, and was summarily shot dead.

In 42 of the case studies, robbery was committed. Nothing was stolen by the attackers in only three of the cases. In two of those cases the victims drove off after being ambushed and wounded in their cars, while in the third the attack was thwarted when the police arrived on the scene, but even in these three cases it can be said with a fair degree of certainty that the primary motive for the attacks was robbery. Unfortunately the statistics in this regard for farm attacks in general are inconclusive. In six of the cases revenge was mentioned as one of the motives, while in seven cases there were overt racial or political overtones. (In one of these cases, however, the purpose of the racist remarks was patently to mislead the police.) In all the cases where the motive might have been revenge or of a racial or political nature, the attackers also robbed items. One also cannot exclude the possibility that some of those attackers who claimed that the attacks had been motivated by political or racial issues, did so in order to evoke some sympathy.

It is clear that the items most sought after by the attackers were money and firearms, while items such as cellular phones were also in demand. Very often the victims’ motor vehicles would also be loaded with loot and driven away. In farm attacks in general during 2001, money was robbed in 31.2% of the cases, firearms in 23.0% and vehicles in 16.0%. The differences may be ascribed to the fact that the majority of the attacks in the cases studies took place on farms, where weapons were more likely to be found.

In the case studies firearms were used in 33 (73.3%) of the attacks. This compares to the 63.8% for farm attacks in general. The difference is probably due to the fact that the case studies all fall within the very serious category. In several cases the firearms used to assault or kill the victims had actually been stolen or robbed from the victims themselves, while five of the firearms used had been stolen on another farm. Some of the most vicious attacks, however, were carried out with other weapons, such as knives.

There were at least 114 attackers involved in the 45 case studies. (In some cases there might have been more than the known number of attackers.) There were therefore an average of 2.5 perpetrators in each attack. Four of the attackers were killed by the security forces or other farmers. In six cases the perpetrators could not be traced or there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution. Two of the prosecutions led to an acquittal because the State could not prove the case. In the other 36 cases some 78 accused were convicted. Their ages varied between 15 and 47, the average being 25.5 years. Most were in their twenties.

Fifty eight accused were convicted of murder. The death penalty was imposed on two of them (four times on one accused for four murders). One later received amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, while the death penalty of the other one was commuted to life imprisonment after the abolition of capital punishment. Thirty one were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders, including nine with double life sentences, while the others received sentences of imprisonment varying between 15 and 50 years. There were three sentences of less than 20 years, the accused being 16, 18 and 23 years old. On the other hand, some accused of below 18 also received sentences in excess of 20 years.

Sixty two of the accused were convicted of robbery or housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery. They all received sentences of imprisonment of between 6 and 25 years. Most, however, varied between 10 and 20 years imprisonment.

Six accused were convicted of rape. Life imprisonment was imposed on one, while the sentence of the others varied between 9 and 20 years.

The sentences imposed on the accused in the case studies were almost all very severe. The only exceptions were sentences imposed on a couple of youngsters and one accused who had a lesser role to play in the farm attack. The Committee also thought that the sentences of 9 and 10 years imposed on two rapists respectively in one case were too light. These relatively light sentences were the exceptions, however.


During the early months of its research the Committee became aware of cases of illegal occupation of farm land. It heard submissions about some of these cases, and Committee members also visited some of the affected areas – Mangete, Nonoti and Nqabeni in KwaZulu-Natal, and Daveyton in Gauteng.

In Mangete, near the KwaZulu-Natal north coast town of Mandeni, where land is owned and farmed by descendants of 19th century settler John Dunn and his Zulu wives, illegal occupants have been moving on to this land since 1993. In 1995 the landowners launched an action in the High Court for the eviction of squatters, which resulted in a formal claim to farm land being submitted by Chief Mathaba of the neighbouring tribal authority area, who was allegedly orchestrating the invasions. The High Court action was suspended while the claim – which was referred to the Land Claims Court for adjudication – was in progress. Nothing was done about the illegal invasions by Government departments and the police, and people, many of whom were not even claimants, continued to move on to this private land. Under pressure from the Land Claims Commissioner, the landowners agreed, in 2001, to defer court proceedings with a view to reaching an out of court settlement. The farmers have been subject to numerous acts of violence, especially theft and arson/malicious damage to property- and have been unable to develop properties because of the outstanding claims. They are extremely unhappy about the conduct of the police and the Regional Land Claims Commission, and had decided to return the matter to the Land Claims Court when the office of the Regional Land Claims Commissioner announced in the media, in November 2002, that there had been a settlement. The Mangete Landowners were not, however, provided with any details about the reported settlement, and none of the illegal occupants moved from their land. In April 2003 the Chairperson of the Mangete Landowners’ Association, Pat Dunn, and her husband, were attacked in their home and Dunn’s husband was seriously injured.

In the Nonoti area, not far from Mangete, to the south of the Tugela River, which has historically been farmed by farmers of Indian origin, invasions have been taking place since the pre-1994 period, with allegations that land illegally occupied has been ‘sold’ by outsiders. Farmers had tried to use legal means to deal with the problem, but police were allegedly not prepared to implement interdicts obtained. Farmers claimed that crime had increased, and that they had had to abandon their farms or employ armed security guards.

The situation in Nqabeni, near Izingolweni, KZN south coast, was similar in many ways to that in Mangete. Invasions of farms owned by people classified under apartheid as ‘coloured’ had started around 1994. One of the farmers had obtained an eviction order in 1996 but the sheriff, when attempting to implement it, had been shot at, and no further attempts had been made to remove the occupants. Only a portion of these farms, which were adjacent to a ‘tribal’ area headed by a traditional leader, were still under cultivation by the owners because of this encroachment. Workers were intimidated and the police, according to the farmers, refused to intervene. Farmers provided examples of intimidation and attack, and the consequences suffered, e.g. fencing was cut up and left lying around, and in 2000 the wife of one of the farmers was shot, kicked, stabbed and left for dead. This farmer and his family had subsequently moved off their farm, but they still owed money because of farming debts they had incurred. There were perceived racial overtones to what was happening, in that a farm in the area bought by black ex-policeman had not been attacked, and nor had white farms in the area been invaded. Land Affairs, it was claimed, had been of no assistance whatsoever, and its staff had not even turned up when meetings had been arranged.

Other Kwa-Zulu Natal areas in which illegal invasion of farm land have been taking place are Verulam/Hazelmere, north of Durban, and Kranskop, in the Greytown area. There have been a number of attacks on farmers of Indian origin in the former area. According to the local station commissioner, those occupying land illegally included not only locals, but also persons from as far afield as the Transkei; once again there were allegations that land was being ‘sold’ by persons who did not own it.

In August 2002 threats were made against farmers in Kranskop following the shooting dead of an alleged poacher on one of the farms, by a member of a private security company employed by the farmers (this security guard was subsequently convicted). After this incident persons from the neighbouring tribal authority area handed farmers a memorandum, listing a number of grievances, and threatening ‘Zimbabwe-style’ land invasions. Prior to this shooting incident, however, there had been a number of other events – including the invasion of the farm owned by one of the local black farmers, continued poaching, and the killing of a white farmer (one of the cases investigated in depth by the Committee) indicative of possible tensions between farmers and members of the neighbouring black community. A land restitution claim was gazetted in March 2003; according to the Regional Land Claims Commissioner this claim had been lodged before the cut-off date in 1998.

In addition to matters followed up by the Committee, there have been media reports of land invasions in KZN (Vryheid), as well as complaints about unacceptable levels of performance of the Land Claims Commission in the province.

Between 2000 and 2002 some 50 000 squatters occupied the farm of Mr A C Duvenhage, Modder East, near Daveyton. He went through the correct legal channels obtaining an order of the High Court on 2001/04/12 for the squatters to vacate the land. The order had no effect on the squatters and the Sheriff required Duvenhage to deposit R 1.8 million into a trust account before she would act. This amount later escalated to R 2.2 million. Repeated appeals by Duvenhage to the State President, the Minister of Safety and Security, the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs and the responsible Municipality itself drew no response. Duvenhage then approached the High Court again on 2002/10/12.

The court found in its judgement on 2002/11/20 that in essence the case was about the effective execution of the original court order after compliance with all the provisions of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and wrongful occupation of land at no 19 of 1998.

It found that Duvenhage was being deprived of his constitutional rights to property and that the Government had a constitutional duty to give effect to the original eviction order. This meant that provision also had to be made for alternative accommodation for the squatters. The court further ordered the Government to submit a comprehensive plan to give effect to the court order. The Government has appealed against the judgement but the case is still pending.


The Committee interviewed a total of 51 persons in Gauteng, North West KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga. They included 36 victims. They included victims who survived the attacks, 28 other persons closely connected with them and also some ‘outsiders’ with no direct connection with the victims but had knowledge of the incidents. The Committee also analysed the circumstances surrounding the attacks.

Most of the 18 (56%) incidents took place at the weekend, often on a Sunday. In most incidents (72%) the victims were confronted and surprised by the attackers inside their homes or on their property. The perpetrators spoke in various languages. Interestingly enough more often than not the victims were able to speak the African language being used by the perpetrators. The perpetrators mainly demanded money or firearms (in one case stealing R26 000 worth of firearms). Other items such as cellphones, watches and jewelry were also taken.

In 50% of the incidents the victims were either shot at, beaten, kicked, slapped or stabbed and in 39% of incidents 10 people lost their lives. In 44% of the cases the victims were treated in a rather cruel manner. In 22% of the cases the victims were unharmed. The financial implications for the victims were enormous but the psychological trauma suffered is inestimable. The injuries sustained by the victims in the study were similar with those described in other reports on farm attacks. In 28% of the incidents the perpetrators displayed an aggressive attitude, although in only one incident were overt racial expressions used.

The farm attacks changed the lives of the victims in all the cases under scrutiny. In 11% of the cases the victims have moved from the farms but those remaining had to change their lifestyles altogether. The farm attack had made them more alert and careful as well.

Almost 90% of the victims thought that they had a good relationship with their workers. In many cases that relationship did not change after the attack and in some cases grew stronger. In other cases there was a lack of trust which the farm workers experienced negatively. Most of the victims used their marnet radios to call for help from other farmers and Commando members in the area. One victim managed to press the panic button, possibly saving their lives.

The majority of the victims were dissatisfied with the conduct of the police to varying degrees. Some even saying that the police members had been drinking. In a few cases the police response was described as excellent.

It was clear to the Committee members interviewing the victims that the security measures on the farms were quite insufficient. Some victims improved their security systems after the attack. In 61% of the incidents the perpetrators were arrested whilst in a further 17% of the cases three suspects were shot dead by the police or farmers. Less than half of the cases had proceeded to court at the time of the interviews. In the incidents that were finalized by the courts the average sentence handed down to the accused was 33 years which is typical in all farm attack cases. Half of the victims thought that farm attacks in general were politically motivated but interestingly enough they did not think that was so in their particular case. Only a third thought that robbery was the main motive for farm attacks in general.

The Committee also conducted interviews with 17 farm workers to obtain their perspectives. Only one of the farm workers was an actual victim, being overpowered while her employers were away; the others were merely in the immediate vicinity. It is clear however, that the farm attacks had a great impact on all of them. They became worried about their own safety and future and also that of their employers. The majority of the farm workers were psychologically affected by the attack. They too described their relationship with their employers as good but their relationship with other farmers in the vicinity deteriorated markedly after the attack. None of the farm workers were involved in security measures of the farmers.

All the victims (farmers, farm workers and their families) interviewed, suffered trauma. Most of them had not been for counseling and the lack of such facilities in rural areas is of great concern.


The Committee only interviewed 8 perpetrators of 5 farm attacks. The major reason being that a comprehensive study had recently been done by two researchers from Technikon South Africa in which 48 offenders had been interviewed.

The Committee interviewed 8 perpetrators linked to 5 different attacks. Most of the perpetrators were young unemployed individuals with a low standard of education. By far the majority came from dysfunctional families. Some of the perpetrators denied involvement in the attacks for which they were convicted.

The two admitting involvement in farm attacks said their motive was robbery and in fact in the Mistry and Dhlamini study robbery was given as the primary motive by 90% of the perpetrators. The perpetrators, in selecting their target, had studied the movements of the inhabitants on the farm. Furthermore, in some cases they had information that the farmer had money, firearms and jewelry in the house. In four of the cases the victims had been killed, either being shot or stabbed. In the Mistry and Dhlamini study the most prevalent forms of violence were burning, strangulation, stabbing and shooting. Half of the perpetrators said that the victims could have avoided the violence by not being confrontational.

An important aspect emanating from the study was that many of the perpetrators never thought they would be caught by the various security agencies. According to the Mistry and Dhlamini study more than half of the attackers were not afraid of being caught by the police or the Commandos. All the perpetrators received long periods of imprisonment, several serving life sentences. This corresponded with the Mistry and Dhlamini study. In both studies the perpetrators felt that their sentences were unfair. Most offenders felt guilty about the attacks however, because they knew that they had done wrong and they were concerned about their own families.


Focus group interviews were conducted with about 50 investigating officers in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Western Cape. Additional interviews were undertaken telephonically.

Most of the investigating officers began taking notice of farm attacks round about 1994. Prior to that there had been robberies on farms but they had not been labelled farm attacks. All agreed that farm attacks had increased over the last four or five years. Most of the investigating officers said that there were very few black farmers in their areas.

General features of farm attacks that the investigating officers stressed are the following; perpetrators obtained information from present or former employees, the movements of the inhabitants of the farm are studied beforehand, the perpetrators were not professional or highly organized – they typically arrive on the farm on foot and steal the farmers vehicle to make a getaway. They work in groups of three or four. Telephone wires are often cut and it is rare for perpetrators to leave without taking anything. When they do they are either disturbed or panic. Victims are often tied up. Rapes are not common.

All the investigating officers are of the opinion that the primary motive for the greater majority of cases– perhaps 90% - is robbery. They are also of the view that farm attacks are not politically motivated and that there is no evidence of an organized structure behind the attacks. There is a perception amongst perpetrators that farmers are wealthy and any business conducted on the farm is a precipitating factor. Perpetrators also expect to find firearms on the farm. In the odd case of revenge being a motive the investigating officers are of the view that a labour dispute triggered the incident.

According to investigating officers the victims include farmers and farm workers alike. They highlight the danger for elderly people and cite both black and white people being robbed and killed. According to these officers the victims are shocked and angry and some think the attacks were politically motivated. A few perceived farm attacks as racist.

The perpetrators are typically young unemployed black males aged between 18 and 35. Some investigating officers estimate that half of the perpetrators have previous convictions. Victims may be killed to prevent perpetrators from being identified.

Most of the investigating officers are of the opinion that the relationship between the farmers and their workers changes in one way or another after an attack. In some instances farmers harbour feelings of hatred towards their workers whilst in other instances the opposite occurs.

In general, investigating officers describe security measures on farms as inadequate. Investigating officers generally agree that there is no difference in the level of violence used in crimes on farms and those in urban areas. All the investigating officers are very experienced and it is clear that they deal with farm attacks as a matter of priority. They are of the opinion that that the conviction rate for farm attacks ranges from 50 to 90%.

The Committee also interviewed 15 prosecutors – all of them state advocates – in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Kimberley, Pretoria and Pietermaritzburg. They were unanimously of the view that farm attacks were non political in nature. At the same time the degree of violence and cruelty exhibited during farm attacks was exceedingly high. Most state advocates attributed this extreme violence to racial hatred.

All confirmed that relatively few cases of rape occur during farm attacks. The farm attacks were generally well planned proceeded by reconnaissance but they were not carried out with ‘military precision’.

They all said that on many farms the security was inadequate. They confirm the view of investigating officers that there is a high success rate for solving farm attacks and an even higher success rate for prosecutions.

Investigating officers recommended that farmers should screen their workers and include workers in all security plans, that security be improved on farms and that farmers become vigilant about their surroundings. They also advocate the sector policing model.

Prosecutors also said that the sector policing plan held promise. Potential victims should be trained on how to respond to farm attacks.


The Committee invited interested persons and bodies to make submissions on the question of farm attacks. The Committee heard submissions from 32 persons, on behalf of themselves or of the organisation they represented. Twenty three written submissions were received. The Committee attempted to obtain as wide a range of opinion on the subject as possible, but only the most prominent ones can be referred to here and only the most salient points can be summarised here.

Several agricultural organisations made verbal as well as written submissions. On behalf of Agri SA it was submitted that there was more behind farm attacks than mere criminality. There were also underlying reasons such as: the culture of violence; the culture of self-enrichment; poverty, unemployment and the disparity of wealth; revenge and hate emanating from the past; racism; the perception of bad relationships between farmers and workers; and inflammatory statements by prominent people. Agri SA also referred to deficiencies in the criminal justice system, and stressed the importance of the Rural Protection Plan and the commando system.

The Transvaal Agicultural Union submitted that there was a perception that farmers were being killed systematically. People who might benefit from farm attacks, might be criminal gangs and warlords, but also people who wanted the land. In the African culture it was easier to accept socialism, and that could bring disrespect for private property. At a subsequent sitting of the Committee the TAU also responded to the Human Rights Watch publication, Unequal protections: the State response to violent crime in South Africa.

The National African Farmers’ Union indicated that it differed with Agri SA on the issue of land reform and development. The price of land should not be market driven, but be based on its productive value. On the other hand, black people should leave communal farming and farm commercially.

The Mangete Landowners’ Association drew the Committee’s attention to the large-scale land invasions taking place in the Mangete area, and the accompanying acts of intimidation.

On behalf of the Action: Stop Farm Attacks and Agricultural Employers’ Association, it was submitted that farm attacks were unique: they involved almost exclusively black on white violence; in many cases nothing was stolen; and in most cases the attackers waited for the farmer to return, only to kill him and rape his wife. The motives for farm attacks lay in hatred for whites, hatred for farmers, and the desire to drive the farmers off the land.

Submissions by the security forces came, firstly, from the Component Operational Coordination of the SAPS. Ass Comm. Burger pointed out that the agricultural unions represented less than half of all the commercial farmers, and this created problems with the implementation of the Rural Protection Plan. He explained the concept of sector policing, and how it could promote rural safety by mobilising the community. He specifically denied that the SAPS were apathetic towards farm attacks. He saw the increase in farm attacks as part of the increase in crime in general.

The Crime Information Analysis Centre of the SAPS explained how statistics on farm attacks were collected, and the problems being experienced in that connection. Although the situation had improved, there was a large degree of underreporting. There was no evidence of an organised campaign against farmers, and it was a waste of time to look for a responsible organisation, and they indicated that they were satisfied that the motive for almost all farm attacks was robbery

The Serious and Violent Crime Unit of the SAPS in the Bushveld area described the manner in which farm attacks should be investigated. It was an integrated process, involving various units of the police, army and the farmers themselves. The overwhelming majority of farm attacks were nothing more than robbery.

Chief Joint Operations of the SANDF referred to the problems in connection with the collection of statistics and confirmed that the statistics prior to 1998 were suspect. The submission looked at causal factors for farm attacks, and especially problems around security. In a follow-up submission, the matter of ‘battle indicators’ (signs to assist the farm attackers) were discussed in detail.

Other Government Departments and non-governmental organisations also made verbal and written submissions. The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation referred to the problem of juvenile offenders. The Human Rights Commission were concerned about the welfare of the farming community as a whole, and particularly of the workers and tenants. The representative of the Department of Land Affairs referred to the widespread violation of the land legislation, primarily in the form of illegal evictions. The Lawyers for Human Rights also stressed that farm attacks should be looked at in the context of rural security as a whole.

The National Land Committee stressed abuse and attacks by farmers and security companies on workers. They said that the Rural Protection Plan focussed only on farmers and, furthermore, that the whole criminal justice system was biased, giving more attention to white farmers than farm workers.

The Freedom Front Party, on the other hand, tendered a written submission, saying that the Afrikaners, in particular, were murdered, tortured and assaulted on the farms. The murder rate for farmers was 274 per 100 000 – more than four times the national figure. Crime was decreasing, but farm attacks were increasing. Farm attacks were inter-racial, well planned and very violent.

Individuals with expert knowledge about aspects of farm attacks also appeared before the Committee. Mr J. Geldenhuys dealt with the problem of security and personal safety on farms. Dr C.L. Jordaan, a geo-strategist, dealt with the issue of land, comparing South Africa with other countries. Mr J. Steinberg described his research on farm attacks and rural safety, especially in the Ixopo and Tzaneeen areas. Ms H.C. van Wijk, a traumatologist, explained the impact of trauma on the victims of farm attacks. Prof Zulu, a sociologist, referred to research he had conducted which showed that land held a variety of meanings for different black African people and for different communities.

Other individuals included Mr D. Martin, who gave the Commission information about a group called Tupac, with links to the PAC, involved in farm attacks. Mr R. Roman also dealt with the land issue. Other written submissions received by the Committee are not discussed in the Report, mostly because they relate to specific matters rather than to the problem of farm attacks in general. Their contents are nevertheless noted and, where relevant, incorporated in the Report.


The Committee reviewed, summarised, and critiqued a fairly large body of literature dealing with farm attacks and related issues such as land reform.

Since 1997 inter-departmental security and intelligence committees, the SANDF and the SAPS Crime Information Analysis Centre (CIAC) have released reports based on available information about farm attacks. These reports are widely cited in other publications.

There are common themes in these reports:
  • The overwhelming majority of farm attacks are attributed to criminal motives (robbery of guns, cash, cars, etc.) with some cases in which there is a revenge motive.
  • The majority of victims are middle aged and elderly and are thus seen as ‘soft targets’.
  • Perpetrators usually operate in groups and there may be urban-rural links; in some instances intelligence for the attack is provided by employees or ex-employees, and there is evidence of planning taking place before the actual attack.
  • There is mention of isolated cases in which there are possible political motives, but in none of these instances was any link to organizational structures proven.
  • There is a problem in conflating smallholdings and farms for statistical and analytical purposes.
  • Those targeted include black as well as white victims.

However, in general, there are also points of criticism about these reports:
  • The compilation of statistical information, which is of central importance to the analysis, has not always been satisfactory. The latest CIAC report has taken a new direction, however.
  • There is a tendency to make ready generalizations without substantiation. For example, assertions are made about women being ‘usually’ raped, but there is little statistical detail to substantiate this. Nor is there any exposition as to why farm attacks are supposedly more brutal than other crimes, except in the last CIAC report. At the same time, not only are these statistics widely cited, usually uncritically, but these unsubstantiated generalizations are often picked up and used, selectively, to support interpretations that there is a hidden political agenda to attacks.

Several papers by researchers and academics, and one by Agricultural Union official J.M. Visser, writing in his personal capacity, also examine the causes of farm attacks and the prevention thereof. Researcher, Antoinette Louw, argues that it is essential to separate attacks on smallholdings from those on farms, since different strategies for dealing with these two categories of attacks may be needed. Citing dubious statistics (which are not sourced) she argues that the murder rate on farms is actually lower than that for the general population. Mark Shaw, claiming that the Rural Protection Plan had met with ‘some success’, points to the need to focus also on continuing attacks on smallholdings, and argues for more representation for small farmers and landless people on the Task Team looking at rural safety. Visser provides a statistical and descriptive overview of farm attacks, and lists some of the main factors contributing to these attacks. A paper by Professor Naude and Van Rensburg situates farm attacks in the broader economic context and makes a number of useful recommendations concerning rural development which could be initiated by commercial farmers, business and Government.

The report by Mistry and Dhlamini is based on detailed interviews conducted with offenders who had been convicted for farm attacks. It provides a profile of these offenders, and concludes that farm attacks are not generally politically or racially motivated, but, for the criminally-inclined in depressed rural areas, farms were logical targets of relative wealth. The authors make a number of recommendations about preventive action which farmers could take. While providing a useful perspective on attacks, a problem with this approach – acknowledged by authors – is that answers given were not necessarily truthful.

A number of publications look specifically at farm attacks in relation to the land issue. Military researcher Haefele refers to tensions and emotions generated by land reform, suggesting that a sinister force was hindering reconciliation and the reconstruction of agriculture in South Africa. There is little of substance in this paper, and the arguments are disjointed and unsubstantiated.

In stark contrast, a monograph by criminologist C.J. Moolman is a detailed, scholarly attempt to explain farm attacks in the broader historical and political context, drawing on his own research as well as a large body of literature. The driving force behind these attacks, he argues, is an African nationalism which is a product of a clash of African and Western cultures, and the political resistance spawned by colonialism and apartheid. The focal point of the present struggle – which is manifest in farm attacks - is land, in the context of expectations of land restitution on the one hand, and the Government’s tardiness in implementing its land reform policy, on the other. Moolman posits the existence of an African mindset, linked to African cosmology and a traditional way of thinking, which is associated with subsistence farming - which is diametrically opposed to the European mindset characterised by individualism, enterprise, free market economy and technological innovation, associated with commercial farming. He also suggests that there is a third, Socialist mindset, in which landowners are viewed as exploiters, and landless people as the exploited, and which is inimical to the demands of the world economy. By way of addressing the problem of farm attacks, the importance of speeding up the land reform process, and improving racial perceptions and relations, are stressed.

Similar, but less systematic and erudite, arguments are advanced in a memorandum by Action Stop Farm Attacks, and in a monograph edited by Van de Graaf and Dr Chris Jordaan (Property Rights in South Africa). A common theme in the latter publication is a strongly pro-Christian, anti-socialist, approach to land reform and private property.

These land-related publications unfortunately present a distorted view of black African society because they draw on outdated and discredited historical and anthropological material in support of their arguments. Culture, which is learned, is by nature fluid and variable, and changes constantly to meet the demands of the wider society. Nor is there consensus about what constitutes ‘African’ identity. Furthermore, historians have shown that many indigenous communities in South Africa responded rationally and with great success to the demands of the 19th century market economy, before draconian steps were taken by the colonial government to force black people to sell their labour.

A paper on racial politics and land reform by Stellenbosch researcher W. van Vuuren, contrasting the emphasis on racial (black) factors in the ‘Africanist’ approach, as opposed to the non-racism embodied in the Freedom Charter, points to the role of class in land policy. Citing the post-1999 shift in Government policy towards the development of a black commercial class, he warns that appeals to ‘Africanism’, as in Zimbabwe, may be used to cloak the interests of black capitalists at the expense of meeting the needs of the urban poor.

Relationships between farmers, and workers and other farm residents, are central to a report by academics R.W. Johnson and L. Schlemmer, and another by the international human rights body, Human Rights Watch. The Johnson and Schlemmer report was based on research, commissioned by the KwaZulu-Natal affiliate of Agri South Africa (now known as kwaNalu) in 1997/8, on relationships between farmers and workers in province. Although based on random sampling, there are certain gaps (major forestry and sugar farming enterprises are excluded), and the findings cannot be generalised to the country as a whole. The authors note that within the category ‘farmer’ there are sub-categories, and regional variations within the province insofar as their findings are concerned. Profiles of farmers are given, as are their major concerns (e.g. legislation, crime, environmental degradation through excess stock). Profiles of workers, who are generally ‘settled working class’ are also provided. Farmers were, on the whole, positive about their relationships with workers. Of the workers, only a quarter of the sample placed land ownership in their top two priorities, and only a small minority said relationships with farmers were not very good or bad (although there were some anomalies in answers given by workers who claimed relationships were good). Pointing to difficulties in accessing workers on farms, critics of the report questioned the independence and non-partisanship of research facilitated by employers.

The focus of the Human Rights Watch report, based on research carried out in conjunction with the National Land Committee, is primarily on abuses suffered by people living and working on farms, including at the hands of owners and managers, and the failure of the organs of State to deal with such abuse in an even-handed manner: Crimes against black residents, it is argued are not pursued with the same determination as those against white farmers. Some of the actions of commandos and security companies guarding farmers, and collusion between some farmers and vigilantes, it is argued, have increased insecurity among people living on and near farms, and a case study of events in Ixopo in 2000 is used for illustrative purposes. One chapter on violent crime against farm owners is superficial, and fails to capture the magnitude of the problem. The Transvaal Agricultural Union issued a document in response to this report, accusing Human Rights Watch of racism and war-mongering. There was also a response from the South African Police Service.

A monograph by M. Schönteich and J. Steinberg, and a separate report by Steinberg, deal specifically with the Rural Safety Plan, based on evaluation research they had conducted in several areas. They found that its effectiveness varied from one area to another, and response times of neighbours were often quicker than those of the police. They considered that the intelligence capacity of the police, which was important in preventing attacks, was ‘weak’. The Plan needed to be adapted to respond to local needs and ensure acceptance and participation by local communities. For example, in Letaba, where participation in commandos was low, some farmers had joined the vigilante group Mapogo a mathamaga, and in the Mooi River area of the North West some farmers preferred to work through networks organised by the Transvaal Agricultural Union.

The Human Rights Watch report, too, makes recommendations about rural safety, stressing the need to build non-racial structures and ensure that the safety needs of all rural residents are accommodated.

Finally, this chapter provides a detailed description of the murder which forms the focus of Steinberg’s book Midlands, and the events surrounding this murder, as well as a summary and critique of Steinberg’s interpretation of this killing. Members of the Committee had interviewed the parents of the murdered man on their farm prior to the publication of the book, and deemed it to warrant a thorough investigation. The detail provided by the Committee shows that Steinberg presents a very partial and, in places, inaccurate account of events surrounding this murder, and concludes that its own investigations find no support whatsoever for the author’s claim that the behaviour of the deceased’s father contributed in any way to the murder. Nor could it find any corroboration for his argument that the killing was part of a drive in the area to remove white farmers from their land.


About 13% of South Africa’s surface area can be used for crop production. High-potential arable land comprises just over a fifth of the total arable land. Commercial farmers own about four-fifths of the available commercial farming area in the country.

Primary agriculture contributes a bit over 3% to the gross domestic product (GDP) in South Africa, and provides almost 9% of formal employment. The broad ‘agro-industrial sector’ is estimated to comprise 15% of GDP. Despite the farming industry’s declining share of GDP, it is crucial to the economy, development and stability of the southern African region.

It is impossible to accurately determine the number of commercial farmers in South Africa, as the available data is dated and geographically incomplete. This is unfortunate as an accurate figure of the number of farm and smallholding residents would permit a calculation of the risk such inhabitants face of becoming a victim of a farm attack.

According to Statistics South Africa, 11.8 million people were employed in the formal and informal sectors in South Africa in 2001. Of these, almost 1.4 million (11.8%) were employed in the ‘agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing’ sector. Of these, 700 000 were employed in the formal sector and 653 000 in the informal sector. Between 1996 and 2001 almost 600 000 jobs were created in the broad agricultural sector (formal and informal).

Three unions represent the commercial agricultural sector in South Africa: Agri South Africa (Agri SA), the Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa (TAU), and the National African Farmers Union (NAFU).

Agri SA claims to have more than 200 agri-businesses, some 45 commodity organisations and nine provincial agricultural unions as members. The organisation also claims to represent 31 000 large-scale and 30 000 small-scale commercial farmers.

According to the Transvaal Agricultural Union – South Africa (TAU), its membership was around 6 000 to 7 000 in 2001. The TAU estimates there were approximately 40 000 commercial farmers in South Africa in 2001, excluding subsistence farmers, smallholders and farm managers.

The National African Farmers’ Union (NAFU) was established in 1991 for black farmers who had previously been excluded from mainstream agriculture. According to the NAFU, it had 45,000 members in 1998. However, because the NAFU could not provide all the services which farmers need its membership had decreased to some 20 000 members by 2001.

The Agricultural Employers’ Organisation (AEO) was established in 1990 claiming to represent thousands of farmers countrywide. The AEO’s mandate includes giving attention to land affairs, and safety matters – the latter is done in conjunction with ‘Action Stop Farm Attacks’. A countrywide signature campaign launched by Action Stop Farm Attacks in 2000, in protest against the high number of attacks on farmers, collected 372 000 signatures within a six-month period.


Contrary to popular perception, levels of recorded crime did not suddenly increase after 1994. Recorded crime increased fairly consistently after the mid-1980s, especially in the early 1990s. Between 1994 and 1997, recorded crime increased at an average of only 1% per year. Thereafter levels of recorded crime, measured from one year to the next, increased at an escalating rate, stabilising slightly in 2001/02.

While murder levels declined after 1994, overall levels of violent crime have experienced the greatest increase compared to all other crime categories. Between 1994 and 2000, violent crime increased by 34%, property crime by 23% and commercial crime by 9%.

Recorded crime rates differ significantly between provinces. In 2000, the Western Cape and Gauteng had the highest provincial per capita rates for most crime types. By contrast the Northern Province had the lowest rates in 13 out of the 15 serious and prevalent crimes recorded by the police.

A comparison of city crime rates shows that Johannesburg has by far the highest incidence of serious crime – both violent and property – followed by Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban. Victimisation varies substantially from one part of the country to the next. All South Africans are not affected by crime to the same extent, and solutions to crime problems need to be based on local crime patterns.

By global standards South Africa has high levels of violent crime. Every third crime recorded in South Africa is violent in nature. A comparison of murder rates shows that South Africa has by far the highest rate in the southern African region.
There is no one satisfactory explanation for South Africa’s high levels of crime – especially the high levels of violent crime. Rather, there are a number of explanations which help to explain the high levels of crime plaguing the country. Such explanations consider the impact of the country’s on-going political and socio-economic transition, the connection between the country’s violent past and contemporary criminal behaviour, the impact of the proliferation of firearms, the growth in organised crime, changes in the demographic composition of the country, and the consequences of a poorly performing criminal justice system on levels of serious crime.

Like the rest of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal experiences high levels of criminal violence. However, there are long-standing political dynamics in certain parts of the province that add a dimension to violent crime which impacts on the safety of rural residents, including farmers, up to the present time.

The violent political struggles in KwaZulu-Natal in the 1980s spawned a phenomenon termed ‘warlordism’, in which powerful men controlled territories and personnel through a combination of force and patronage. The political violence and the violent behaviour of warlords and their foot soldiers resulted in widespread death, destruction of property, displacement of whole communities, disruption of family life, and permanently traumatised children. In essence, it entrenched a culture of violence in the province.

Today, many of the killings in rural KwaZulu-Natal go virtually unnoticed and are usually dismissed as ‘faction fighting’. Yet the violence has become entangled with issues varying from political conflict and boundary disputes, to taxi-violence and stock theft. This continuing culture of violence impacts upon farmers. Firstly, in conflict-ridden rural communities where true freedom of political activity does not exist, farmers may still be perceived (rightly or wrongly) as politically aligned rather than neutral bystanders. Secondly, political foot soldiers serving a rural warlord, for example, may rob, rape and kill for purely criminal gain, since they are armed, and make a living out of violence.


South Africa’s criminal justice system is not performing optimally. Overall fewer than half of all recorded crimes are detected, and on average fewer than one out of ten cases recorded by the police result in the conviction of the perpetrators.

Once criminal cases are successfully processed through most of the criminal justice system, with the suspects ending up in the accused box in court, their chances of being convicted are high. There is persuasive anecdotal evidence to conclude that the success rate for the prosecution of farm attack cases is significantly above the average.

An important reason for the low detection rate in South Africa is that, compared to the mid-1990s, there are fewer functional police officers dealing with higher levels of crime. Detectives are overloaded with cases, with the result that many cases are not dealt with expeditiously, and police officers in the country’s rural areas are thinly spread. This is being addressed, however, through the recruitment of an additional 30,000 entry-level police constables by early 2006.

In late 1997 the Rural Protection Plan was launched. The object of the Plan is to encourage all role players in rural safety to work together in a coordinated manner, and engage in joint planning, action and monitoring to combat crime in the country's rural areas. During the four years after the launch of the Plan the number of recorded farm and smallholding attacks increased. The Plan’s success appears to vary from one geographic area to the next.

A key component of the Rural Protection Plan – the commandos – are to be phased out by the end of the decade. The police service intends launching two initiatives in respect of rural safety which are intended to replace the commandos: Area Crime Combating Units and Sector Policing.

The proposed sector policing strategy may be able to overcome some of the police’s problems in respect of policing rural communities. With dedicated police officers or police reservists for geographically defined areas, and greater community interaction with sector police personnel, the police will be in a better position to collect crime intelligence and encourage public cooperation in the detection of crime. However, given the size, geographic isolation and dispersion of many rural areas, a policing strategy based on a consistent visible police presence in the form of sector police personnel will be difficult to sustain to the point where it succeeds in curbing crime.

The detective and investigative capacities of rural police stations needs to be enhanced. Proactive functions at these police stations should focus on enhancing information and intelligence gathering to support the detective functions and guide the operational deployment of station personnel and specialised units. This is crucial as too few farm attacks are prevented because the security forces rarely obtain advance warning of such attacks.

The police service in rural areas lacks the resources its personnel need to work effectively. Many police stations work with insufficient and old and inadequate equipment such as vehicles, radios and basic information technology equipment, and even handcuffs. More and better resources cost money which is in short supply. It is, however, possible to allocate existing resources in a more productive way. This could entail reallocating head office-based police officers to police stations in high crime areas, and placing more officers on duty over times when most crimes occur.

There is a limit to what the police service and the criminal justice system can do to reduce crime. The criminal justice system lacks the influence to deter many perpetrators from committing crimes. Perpetrators tend to be motivated by such feelings as anger, hatred, lust or jealousy (often in the context of alcohol and drug abuse). They are not in a rational frame of mind to weigh up the consequences of their actions. This is not to say, however, that the criminal justice system’s role is unimportant. The system plays a crucial role in prosecuting repeat offenders and cracking down on organised crime syndicates. The criminal justice system can also play a vital role to reduce some of the facilitators of crime, such as drugs and firearms. The point has been made that much of the country’s criminal gang and organised crime problem is linked to the ready availability of drugs – because drug addicts turn to crime of various kinds to finance their drug habits.

In South Africa there appears to be a disproportionately large number of young males who are prepared to use crime, often involving high levels of violence, to satisfy their material desires. Many also engage in wanton violence in a misguided attempt to bolster their masculinity, or to vent their anger and frustration at a society they feel has abandoned them.

Culture of violence theories argue that the effects of apartheid, coupled with years of political violence and the continued exposure to violence in the home and in the neighbourhood have produced a destructive culture. It means that South Africans quickly resort to violence as a means of solving conflicts – whether in the domestic, social or work environment.

Crime prevention strategies can only be effective within institutional contexts that are strong enough to support them. This is because families, communities, schools, churches and work contexts discourage crime by creating commitments to conventional life patterns that would be endangered by crime. The role of informal social control becomes problematic when institutions like the family and community break down and are not able to exert the pressures necessary to uphold the law.

To change the widespread culture of violence in South Africa will take time. Crucially, it cannot be done by the criminal justice system alone. Peoples’ beliefs and values are at their most mouldable during their childhood and early adolescent years. During this time young people generally have little contact with the police or criminal justice system. Their role models and those who have influence over them are their parents, siblings, extended family members, teachers, religious leaders, friends and other people in their age group with whom they mix on a regular basis. Such role models and age-group peers, and civil society organisations all exert informal social control, or pressures to conform to the law and socially acceptable behaviour. This places an onus on all law abiding South Africans to play their part in changing the destructive values and attitudes that have been internalised by a large portion of the population.


The allegation is often made that farm attacks are politically or racially inspired and that crimes stemming from them are more violent that other comparable crimes. The crimes mostly associated with farm attacks are robbery or housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery. The Committee has therefore compared farm attacks with cash-in-transit robberies, which are usually robbery with aggravating circumstances, and house robberies in urban areas, which are usually house breaking with intent to rob and robbery.

In 2001 there were 1398 victims of farm attacks, of whom 34.6% were injured and 10.5% killed. There were an estimated 1125 victims of cash-in-transit robberies, of whom 14.5% were injured and 3.5% killed. The chances of a victim being injured in a farm attack were therefore twice as great as for cash-in-transit robbery victims, and chances of being killed three times greater.

One obvious explanation for the greater violence of farm attacks may be that the attackers act with a different motive than simply robbery, e.g. political or racial. There are other less obvious explanations, however:
  • Cash-in-transit robberies are better planned than farm attacks.
  • Cash-in-transit robbers are better trained and more experienced than farm attackers.
  • They act in large groups, who are able to overwhelm the victims.
  • Their escape routes are easier and quicker than for farm attacks.
  • Their victims are trained to handle crisis situations, unlike most farm attack victims.

The CIAC made a docket analysis of house robberies that occurred in the Eastern Cape during 2001. Unfortunately, murder and rape cases were excluded. The Committee analysed some 91 farm attacks in the Eastern Cape, dating mostly from 2000 and 2001, which were similar to the house robberies, and compared them with 66 house robberies analysed by the CIAC. The CIAC itself then also made a comparative study between farm attacks and house robberies in Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West.

To validate the comparison, only farm attacks were used where the circumstances were the same as for the house robberies. Furthermore, since the house robbery survey excluded cases of murder and rape, those were ignored in the farm attack sample as well. The results of the comparative study are as follows:
  • Both farm attacks and house robberies were spread out fairly evenly throughout the year. Similarly they might take place any day of the week. However, more than half of the farm attacks took place during the day, whereas more than two thirds of the house robberies occurred in the evenings and during the night.

  • In both farm attacks and house robberies the first place of contact between the perpetrators and the victims were inside the house, although this happened more often in the case of house robberies.

  • In about 80% of both the farm attacks and the house robberies, the victims were surprised and overpowered by the attacker, either inside or outside the house. In the other cases the victims were approached on some pretext by the perpetrators.

  • In less than half of both the farm attacks and the house robberies, the perpetrators found it necessary to break into the house. In the rest of the cases the perpetrators gained unobstructed entry, or were let in by the victims either under duress or freely. In some cases the perpetrators were prevented from entering the house.

  • In the Eastern Cape, the farm attackers used firearms in about half of the cases, but in the other four provinces surveyed the farm attacker used firearms 95% of the time. Surprisingly enough, in the house robberies in the Eastern Cape as well as the other four provinces, firearms were also used in about 95% of the cases.

  • Some 29.4% of the farm attack victims in the Eastern Cape suffered injuries, while in the other four provinces 19.4% of the victims were injured. Of the house robbery victims, 16% were injured in the Eastern Cape and 11.5% in the other four provinces. It would therefore seem that farm attack victims had a considerably greater chance of being injured than house robbery victims.

  • Of the farm attack victims, 32.2% were tied up by the attackers in the Eastern Cape, and 25.8% in the other four provinces. This was considerably more than in the case of house robberies, where 3.8% were tied up in the Eastern Cape and 8.3% in the other four provinces.

  • The items stolen in farm attacks and house robberies varied considerably. Many more firearms and vehicles were robbed during the farm attacks than in the house robberies. On the other hand, money was much more often taken during the house robberies.

  • In the Eastern Cape 70% of the farm attack victims were white, and in the other four provinces 52%. In the house robberies, only 5% of the victims in the Eastern Cape were white and only 13% in the other four provinces. Of the 100 white victims of farm attacks in the Eastern Cape, however, 42% were injured, whereas of the 43 black or coloured victims, only one (2.3%) was injured. Therefore, at least in the Eastern Cape, a white victim of a farm attack was far more likely to be injured than a black or coloured victim. About one third of both groups were tied up, however.

  • Considerably more than half of all the house robbery victims were under the age of 40 years. Compared to this, considerably more than half of the farm attack victims were over the age of 40, especially in the Eastern Cape.

  • In both farm attacks and house robberies, there were, on average, between two and three attackers involved in each incident.

  • The personal particulars of the farm attackers in the Eastern Cape are not known. In the other four provinces they were 96.5% black, 2% white and 1.5% coloured. In the house robberies in the other four provinces, 99% of the perpetrators were black. Only 1% of the perpetrators were female.

  • In both farm attacks and house robberies most of the perpetrators were between 20 and 39 years of age. Surprisingly, a much bigger proportion of house robbers were 19 or younger than was the case for farm attacks. This may indicate the involvement of young gangsters.

  • Of the farm attacks, 42.9% of the cases in the Eastern Cape resulted in a successful prosecution, but in the other four provinces this was only 17.3%. However, for the house robberies there were successful prosecutions in only 6.1% of the cases in the Eastern Cape and 7.1% in the other four provinces. Although the figures are all low, it can be said that farm attack cases are far more likely to end up in court, with a good conviction rate.


In the course of research it became obvious that the question of the Government’s land policy was of central importance to farmers, both in terms of the way in which specific aspects of it impact on farming activities, and the perception that farm attacks were part of a campaign to drive farmers off their land – a perception reinforced by illegal invasions.

Three main principles have shaped this policy: (1) redistribution to provide disadvantaged and poor people with land; (2) restitution of rights in land lost through forced removals linked to homeland consolidation; and (3) land tenure reform to improve security of tenure of vulnerable people and communities. The main goal of the policy is to redress past racial imbalances in land ownership and occupation, in line with the principles of South Africa’s constitution, and to this end four pieces of legislation are of particular importance.

The Restitution of Land Rights Act, Act No22 of 1994, as amended, governs procedures to be followed by persons dispossessed in terms of racially based law in applying for land restitution. It provides for the establishment of a Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights and a Land Claims court, and the functions of, and procedures to be followed by, these bodies. While the Act stipulates that claimants may not be evicted from land already occupied without the permission of the Chief Land Claims Commissioner, it also forbids any occupation of land without the permission of the owner or lawful occupier. Amendments to the original act (Section 42A,B,C,D) give powers to the Minister to award land and/or pay compensation to claimants.

The Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act, Act No 3 of 1996, aims to provide security of tenure for labour tenants on farms and those associated with them (including retrospectively) and assist them to acquire rights in land. The Act specifies the obligations which those included under its provisions have towards the owner or lessee of the land, and the circumstances under which their rights can be terminated. Evictions are prohibited unless carried out in terms of a court order, and the conditions under which such evictions should take place are given. The type of claims which tenants may make, and the procedures to be followed, are spelled out in detail.

The Extension of Security of Tenure Act No 62 of 1997, known as ESTA, is intended to ensure that no evictions, including from farms, are carried out without a court order. It attempts to strike a balance between the rights of land owners and tenants/occupiers, and to regulate the conditions under which the latter may be evicted. Among the important matters with which this Act deals are whether or not occupants reside on land with the consent of the owner or person in charge, the conditions under which subsidies may be given for development purposes, the rights and duties of tenants/occupiers, and the conditions governing termination of their rights of residence and eviction. In terms of this Act, magistrates’ courts are given certain powers (e.g. to order eviction or reinstatement orders), and a party to a dispute may also opt for mediation.

The fourth piece of legislation, the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, No 19 of 1998, repeals the Illegal Squatting Act of 1951 and certain other legislation, and prohibits unlawful evictions while, at the same time, providing for procedures for the eviction of people who occupy land unlawfully. The procedures and principles guiding the eviction of unlawful occupiers are laid down in the Act, which also makes it clear that it is illegal for any person to receive or solicit payment for organising land occupation without the consent of the owner or person in charge of the land.

While providing a framework for claiming restitution of land rights lost in the past, and preventing further erosion of such rights, these four pieces of legislaton also attempt to protect the rights of property owners and ensure that the behaviour of different parties is lawful. It is clear that the courts continue to play a pivotal role in disputes of all kinds around land, including if there is a lack of consensus or disagreement on any land-related issues. Principles of ‘Just administrative action’ are also enshrined in the South African constitution. Furthermore, a definitive interpretation of the above legislation has now been given by the High Court in its judgement of Modderklip Boerdery (Ems) Bpk vs Die President van die Republiek van Suid-Afrika, which sets out the Government’s responsibility in preventing the illegal occupation of land, on the one hand, and in providing suitable residential land to the homeless, on the other.

While there was a slight shift in land-related policy after the 1999 elections, the commitment to address past imbalances in an equitable and sustainable – i.e. development-oriented – manner has remained. Progress in implementing the land reform programme has, however, been painfully slow and extremely costly. Periodic calls have been made for the Government to expropriate land it could not afford to buy. During the past two years this slow pace of land reform delivery has been used as an excuse to threaten illegal invasions in different parts of the country – a process which, as this report documents elsewhere, is already underway.


The case studies undertaken by the Committee showed that a large proportion of farms and smallholdings attacked had no security measures at all, and even where there were good security systems installed they were out of order or not being utilised. This phenomenon has also been observed in other studies.

Chief Joint Operations of the SANDF conducted surveys of 810 farm attacks in 1999. In 56% of the cases the security measures had not met the required standards, while in another 20% the existing security measures had not been utilised. In 53.2% of the cases there had been no burglar bars, in 55.7% no security doors, in 50.7% no proper fencing, and in 47.8% no dogs. The survey was repeated in 2000, with virtually the same results.

The CIAC in the Eastern Cape conducted a study of 1614 farms during 2001. There were no signs warning trespassers to keep out in 83.0% of the farms, no proper fencing around the homestead in 45.5%, no proper fencing at the workers’ houses in 79.5%, no locked gates in 72.8%, no or ineffective dogs in 55.1%, no or unlocked security doors in 41.2%, no proper burglar proofing in 60.8%, no proper external lighting in 29.7%, and no monitored alarm system in 70.0% of the farms.

There may be several reasons for this state of affairs.
  • Traditionally farms are regarded as safe havens. However, it seems that a white farmer has a greater risk of being murdered than his counterpart in a small town or village.
  • Some security measures are expensive. However, some security systems are relatively cheap.
  • Some farmers say security systems only create the impression that there are valuables on the property. However, if that is so then all security may as well be discarded with.
  • Many farmers think that their firearms provide enough security. However, the many farm attacks prove this attitude to be wrong.
  • Some argue that no security system is impenetrable. However, the criminal is likely to follow the road of least resistance. If a farm is well protected, he will go to the next.

Property can be safeguarded in various ways:
  • There should be fences and signs warning against trespassing on the farm or smallholding. From a criminological point of view, they are very important.
  • Farm roads and gates where ambushes may take place should be made safe, e.g. by clearing the bush or putting in a cattle grid.
  • There should be a security fence around the homestead, and the gate should be kept locked.
  • A good watch dog is most important, especially if it is properly trained.
  • There should be security lights on the outside of the building and in the yard.
  • All the windows should have burglar proofing, and not only the opening windows.
  • There should be a security gate at the door, so that the occupants are not surprised.
  • A proper alarm system is essential. It should preferably be a monitored system, so that assistance can be called for.

Personal protection should also be considered:
  • Potential victims can be trained in self-defence techniques.
  • It is essential that, if reliance is placed on firearms, the users thereof should be properly trained. The legal aspects of shooting somebody should also be considered.
  • Alertness is absolutely free, but of all safety measures probably the most important.
  • Special attention should be given to arriving and leaving the farm.
  • The farm residents should also cultivate safety habits, e.g. watching out for strangers and exercising care when answering a knock at the door.
  • Mental preparedness is a very important aspect of personal safety, and it is something for which potential victims can be trained. There is no doubt that the inability of victims to handle farm attacks correctly, is one of the major reasons for the high injury and fatality figures.

Where certain factors are present, the risk of a farm attack increases dramatically:
  • Elderly people are more vulnerable. They are frail and not as alert as they should be.
  • Solitary residents are favourite targets of farm attackers.
  • A stall or shop on the farm or smallholding is likely to attract robbers.
  • Large amounts of money and valuables should not be kept on the farm.
  • Once a farm is attacked, it may happen again, especially if the attack was successful.
  • Proximity to major roads, railway lines and areas known for its criminals is a danger sign.
  • Lack of some communication system other than a land telephone line, is dangerous.
  • ‘Battle indicators’ and other signs that the farm is being observed by would-be attackers, should be taken seriously.
  • Bad relationships with farm workers and other residents on the farm are dangerous.

No farmer can introduce all the suggested security measures. It would both be too expensive and make daily life intolerable. Some measures are relatively cheap or may cost nothing at all, however, and farmers should do what is affordable and reasonable under the circumstances.


The financial impact of farm attacks on the farming community is tremendous. According to surveys conducted by Agri SA, where a farmer is killed it will take 18 months on average for the farm to become productive again. The livelihood of many people – the farmer, the farm workers and their families – is affected by such an attack.

Yet the impact of farm attacks on the psyches of the victims can be equally catastrophic. In the chapter on ‘The victims of farm attacks’ the traumatic impact of farm attacks on victims is illustrated by way of actual case studies.

Trauma is not a new phenomenon, but is as old as human kind. There are numerous accounts of trauma and its effects in many early historical writing. However, emotional trauma as a concept has only been properly identified over the last approximately 20 years. Prior to that, what we know today as emotional trauma was referred to as hysteria, nervous shock, the great neurosis or war neurosis and even as late as the Vietnam war, the effects of traumatization was still considered to be signs of weakness and even malingering.

The word ‘trauma’ is derived from the Greek term meaning ‘wound’. This meaning provides a graphic image of what takes place in human trauma. When a person encounters a traumatic experience, he or she becomes a wounded individual, and as with all wounds there must be a time of healing.

A person is traumatized when exposed to a traumatic event which involved actual or threatened death or injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of himself or another person, and the person’s response is one of helplessness or horror. There is therefore a sense of loss and an irreversible change of circumstances, such as the loss of a loved one, and at the same time the person experiences a severe impairment of his normal coping abilities. A farm attack may be a typical traumatic event.

Very often people have dramatic reactions to extraordinary, traumatic events, that may leave them feeling overwhelmed and upset. The symptoms and feelings that such a person experiences, are normal reactions to abnormal situations. However, the availability of early trauma intervention may determine whether the majority of survivors will recover emotionally within a reasonable time or be plagued by delayed symptoms for a long time in the future.

It has become imperative for the South African farming community (and indeed the community in general) to create the necessary infrastructure to deal with the trauma, and for the citizens to utilise these resources effectively. Furthermore, the problem of traumatic stress caused by farm attacks has to be tackled not only on a reactive level, by the establishment of trauma centres with properly trained counsellors, but also proactively, through workshops for farmers, farm workers and their families.


The literature and submissions considered by the Committee offer a number of likely explanations for farm attacks, often using the terms motives or causes. Motives refer to the psychological driving forces behind human behaviour, while causes take into account the broader sociological dynamics. From a criminological point of view explanations for farm attacks can be grouped into four broad categories:

  • Attacks are motivated by criminal intent such as robbery, sometimes leaving in its wake crimes such as murder and rape. Most of the reports by the security agencies, and several other studies, conclude that the overwhelming majority of attacks are criminally motivated

  • Attacks are politically motivated, specifically in relation to land issues, and aimed at driving (white) farmers off the land. This explanation is favoured by Action Stop Farm Attacks, the TAU and some political organisations. The post-1994 rhetoric of certain politicians is seen as supporting this explanation of why white farmers are attacked

  • Farm attacks are related to labour disputes and grudges. In this sense, farmers are perceived as exploiting and ill-treating their labour. Excerpts of interviews cited in the Human Rights Watch report are used to support this theory. This view has been expressed by trade unionists and certain political parties

  • Farm attacks are caused by a variety of factors, including those referred to above, but also by other factors such as racism, the failure of the criminal justice system, the culture of violence, and socio-economic conditions. Professor Moolman points out that the dynamics of farm violence are extremely complicated.

The debate about farm attacks is essentially about two issues - whether the overwhelming majority of farm attacks are merely motivated by criminal intent or whether they are politically orchestrated. Other related issues also received much attention. The major topics considered by the Committee are the following:

The number of farm attacks

Farm attacks increased between 1991 and 2001, but seem to have stabilized during 2002, and may even be decreasing at this stage. The murder rate decreased between 1998 and 2001, and dropped considerably in 2002.

Although the situation has improved considerably; accurate reporting of farm attacks is still a problem. Attention should be given to this matter, especially at ground and intermediate level. The Committee is of the view that attacks on smallholdings should still remain in the definition of farm attacks. However, the distinction between farms and smallholdings should be maintained so that suitable comparisons can be made.

The motives for farm attacks

The Committee thoroughly investigated the motives for farm attacks, and especially whether there was an underlying political or racial motive. By far the greater majority of cases are motivated by a desire to rob or steal. Very few cases have political overtones.

Farm attacks generally are also not carried out with ‘military precision’, and there is no indication of an organisation behind farm attacks in the narrow sense of the word, with the exception of certain incidents connected with land invasions.

Land invasions

Land invasions often go hand in hand with incidents of intimidation and arson, and they often lead to farm attacks in the narrow sense of the word. In some cases of land invasions there is evidence of a degree of organization, especially by traditional leaders KwaZulu-Natal. There are indications that these invasions are likely to increase and the matter is of great concern to the Committee.

The Committee has been given examples of unprofessional and even unconstitutional actions by officers of the Land Claims Commission, which behaviour has impacted very negatively on farmers. The Committee has also been given examples of the SAPS refusing to assist farmers in implementing the law.

The Committee recommends that the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Affairs, and that the SAPS gives urgent attention to ensuring that laws are implemented and the constitutional rights of land owners are protected. The SAPS must ensure that police at the local station level fulfil their legal duties in this regard when called upon to do so.

The process of land restitution should also be speeded up in line with existing legislation.

The degree of violence involved in farm attacks

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Many farm attacks are extremely violent and the high publicity given to these cases give rise to the perception that all farm attacks are of that nature. They are not typical of the majority of farm attacks, however. The Committee found it difficult to establish a suitable basis for comparing the degree of violence with that of other comparable crimes. Since the majority of farm attacks are robberies, comparisons were made between these attacks and cash-in-transit robberies. It was found that victims of farm attacks ran a far greater risk of being killed than victims of cash-in-transit robberies. Similarly a comparison of house robberies on farms and house robberies in urban areas suggest that there was a greater likelihood of victims on farms being injured than the victims of urban areas.

There is thus some support for the notion that farm attacks are more violent than other robberies but there was insufficient statistical data for proper analysis and further research by the CIAC is recommended.

The role of race

Just over 60% of the victims of farm attacks during 2001 were white, but it seems as if the proportion of black victims is increasing. However, it seems that there is a considerably higher risk of a white victim of farm attacks being killed or injured than a black victim. On the other hand, except for individual cases, the Committee could find no general underlying racial motive for this discrepancy, and there may be a variety of factors which could account for it.

The criminal justice system

The investigation of farm attacks is given high priority, and the conviction rate for farm attack cases is higher than for other similar crimes. This seems linked to investigations being handled by specialised units. There were generally high levels of dissatisfaction among farmers with the service delivery at local police stations. It is also clear that there is a lack of resources in terms of police personnel and vehicles in rural areas.

The Committee supports the replacement of the Commandos with Area Crime Combating units and Sector Policing, provided that the transition is handled correctly. Hopefully these initiatives will overcome many of the problems which are being experienced in rural areas. The Committee recommends optimum use of available police resources and the enhancement of detective capacities in rural areas. It is important to involve all rural residents in structures such as Community Police Forums and the Rural Safety Plan.

Security on farms and smallholdings

There are a variety of reasons for criminals chosing to target farmers. Yet there is little doubt that security on many farms is inadequate or non existent, lacking even basic security measures such as burglarproofing and guard dogs. There is also a general lack of alertness. The Committee’s research suggests that it could be of benefit for potential victims to receive training on how to react during an attack.

It is essential that security companies operating in farming communities should be registered with the regulatory authority and conduct themselves to the benefit of the whole community. Farm attacks may strain relationships between farmers and workers and ways should be found of rebuilding this trust of affected rural communities.

The trauma caused by farm attacks

Trauma has serious consequences for the victims of farm attacks and has not been given sufficient attention. The Committee recommends the creation of infrastructure in rural areas to deal with trauma.

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