The civil rights organization AfriForum sent a formal letter to parliament on Tuesday in which the organization requested that a public hearing be held on farm murders.
According to a statement, the letter was addressed to Tina Joemat-Pettersson, chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on police, after AfriForum noticed a sharp increase in farm attacks over the past two months.
According to Ernst Roets, Head of Policy and Action at AfriForum, there were already eight farm attacks and one farm murder in August.
This after 40 farm attacks were reported in June. Five murders were committed during those attacks. In July, there were also 40 farm attacks during which nine murders were committed.
“In the request to Joemat-Pettersson, AfriForum specifically requests that organizations involved in the fight against farm murders be given the opportunity to submit submissions on potential solutions to the committee. This is especially important now in light of the crime statistics released last week, as well as the statement by Genl. “Khehla Sitole, national police commissioner, that farm murders should enjoy a greater priority within the SAPS,” Roets said.
Roets admits in the letter that it can be argued that the number of people killed on farms represents only a small percentage of the total number of people killed in South Africa.
“However, this argument is based on a misunderstanding of statistics, as the farming community does indeed make up a small percentage of the total number of South Africans.”
According to Roets, the following facts should be taken into account when assessing farm murders:
- The frequency with which farm attacks occur, also taking into account the size of the group;
- The unique level of brutality and violence committed during these attacks;
- The role played by the agricultural community in South Africa, especially with regard to food production and jobs; and
- The fact that farmers live so far away from their neighbors and the nearest police stations.
“That is why AfriForum believes that farm murders should enjoy a greater priority with the government, not because farmers are entitled to special treatment, but to equal treatment.
“Our plea is for equal treatment for farmers because it is standard practice to develop focused counter-strategies in response to unique crimes that have far-reaching consequences. However, this does not happen in the case of farm murders. “