Arm yourself and fight back against farm attackers, but do so within the framework of the law.
This was the message from AfriForum and the agricultural organization Sow to South African farmers on Wednesday afternoon to prevent farm murders and attacks.
“Where government fails (to keep rural communities safe), we must look after ourselves. It is now a matter of life and death, ”Dr. Theo de Jager, chairman of Saai, said at a media conference of AfriForum in Pretoria.
“You (the farmers) are now on your own. Take responsibility for your own safety.
“Farmers need to make sure they are armed and the weapons are well maintained.
“No solution to farm attacks and murders is possible until the government does not admit that this is a serious problem facing South Africa,” De Jager said.
There has been a sharp increase in farm attacks and murders, especially after level 3 of the Covid-19 containment.
AfriForum says there were 40 farm attacks and five farm murders in June. So far, there have been 15 farm attacks and four farm murders in July.
The attacks are becoming increasingly brutal.
De Jager, who is also president of the World Agricultural Organization, says the pressure on the government is increasing internationally on the issue.
More and more embassies in South Africa are beginning to inquire about statistics on farm attacks and murders and the foreign media are reporting on this more frequently.
De Jager said it was time for an independent commission of inquiry to be established to thoroughly investigate the issue of farm attacks and murders.
Such a commission should investigate the factors, nature and origin of farm attacks and murders, as well as the political and social environment in which they occur.
More scientific research is also needed.
De Jager said it was important for farmers to join agricultural organizations’ security actions.
Ernst Roets, Head of Policy and Action at AfriForum, says the organization does not ask for special treatment on these attacks, but for equal treatment.
“The government has no problem developing focused counter-strategies to combat a variety of unique crimes. These include violence against women and children, gang-related violence, copper cable theft, transit robberies and rhino poaching, to name but a few.
“It is only in the case of farm murders that we are suddenly confronted with, in the worst case, cabinet members justifying these crimes, or at best dismissing the existence of the crisis as something unimportant,” he says.
Roets also announced at the media conference the contents of an open letter that AfriForum sent to Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa sent.
This letter asks Ramaphosa to intervene.
Ten practical steps that the government should take to effectively combat farm murders are also set out in this letter.
Among other things, the organization suggests that hate speech encouraging or romanticizing violence against farmers should be criminalized.
According to Ian Cameron, AfriForum’s Head of Community Safety, the law leaves ample room for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.
“This right must simply be incorporated and used. It is high time that every law-abiding citizen who works in a rural area and lives arm himself within the framework of the law.
“Every person needs to know when they are allowed to shoot, and must be able to protect themselves, their families, neighbors and community. Arm yourself and get to know your weapon.
“The government has until now simply abandoned our rural communities.
“We need to organize ourselves and act proactively to ward off attacks.”
It has already happened lately that farmers and workers are increasingly fighting back and defending themselves. Several attackers have recently been wounded or killed by victims.
Most attacks are planned with military precision.
Political analyst Theo Venter says he would have taken a different approach than AfriForum and Saai.
“The problem with such a call for an armament may have been more closely followed than intended. It can be misinterpreted. “
Suggestions to the President:
• Recognize the severity of the crisis and publish statistics on farm attacks and murders each quarter;
• Have ongoing independent research on the scale of the crisis, its phenomenon and the
effectiveness of a variety of counter-strategies;
• Involve local communities through government-funded structures to play the role of the then commando system;
• Recognize farm attacks as a priority for the Falcons;
• Collaborate with the civilian community to improve police response to farm attacks;
• Revise the national rural security strategy to specifically provide for a focused response to farm attacks;
• Establish specialized rural security units;
• Follow a holistic approach to farm attacks as opposed to the current local focus as if they were isolated events;
• Provide comprehensive support for victims throughout the process;
• Introduce legislation that stipulates more extensive handling of farm attacks. These include the criminalization of hate speech in which violence against farmers is encouraged or romanticized.
Other facts according to AfriForum:
• Most farm attacks occur between midnight and four in the morning;
• In 18.4% of farm attacks nothing was stolen;
• 60.5% of attacks were on farms, 31.3% on smallholdings, 4% at lodges and the rest elsewhere;
• In Gauteng, most attacks are on smallholdings.
• The four most dangerous environments in terms of farm attacks are Brits (North West), Kameeldrift, Pretoria North and Cullinan (all in Gauteng);
• In 42.2% of attacks, firearms were used. Knives and cutting knives were used in just 7.5% of attacks.