THE FARM MURDER PLAGUE
Since the ANC came to power in 1994, 1600 farmers have been murdered in over 8000 farm attacks. A farmer has been murdered, on average, once every second day for ten years.
There has been an average of 77 farm attacks per month. The murder rate of South African commercial farmers is the highest for any specific group in the world 313 per 100 000. The murder rate amongst the general population is officially 55 per 100 000 (In Europe the murder rate is 2 per 100 000).
Two of the hallmarks of farm murders in South Africa during the last ten years have been the horrible torture perpetrated on many of the victims and the sadistic cruelty to animals which is reminiscent of the Mau Mau terrorist campaign in Kenya in the 1950's. The sheer savagery of the extremely brutal attacks include: an elderly farmer whose head was opened by an axe; a lady of 84 who was repeatedly raped; a year old baby set alight; farmers strangled, garrotted; mutilated, dumped into boiling water, suffocated, slashed with pangas, repeatedly stabbed, tortured with a heated iron; etc.
In farm murders extreme violence is widespread. If women are present, they are generally raped. Torture is now fairly routine – cruelty to animals pervasive.
The question about farm murders is “why?” The government's standard approach is to declare that most farm murders and attacks are simply criminal. But Professor Moolman points out the following:
•Why are the attacks and murders on farms so premeditated, while statistics indicate that the overwhelming majority of murders in South Africa are related to alcohol, drug abuse, and interpersonal and domestic conflict?
•Why are farm attacks so extremely brutal, which is not the case with the majority of murders in South Africa?
•Why are farm attacks and murders mostly black on white, while this is not necessarily the case in the rest of South Africa? If theft is the most important motive, why are thousands of black shop owners not brutalised remotely as much during attacks by gangs as is the white farming community?
•Why are farmers constantly accused of mistreating their workers, thus precipitating farm attacks, while the Helen Suzman Foundation found that 93% of farm workers indicate their relationship with their employer is good?
• Why have bad socio-economic conditions become the reason for attacks, while it is acknowledged that bad socio-economic conditions existed before 1994 in black communities.
Professor Moolman details cases of “senseless killing” where criminals waited at the farm house without taking anything in order to ambush, torture and kill the farmer and his wife on their return home. In other cases the farmer's family was held hostage until he returned. Some criminals have travelled vast distances to attack people on farms. Racial slogans at the crime scene are commonplace. Clearly robbery is not the main motive for farm attacks. Many farmers conclude: “They want to drive us from our land.”
The accompanying problems of intimidation, crop and stock theft, illegal squatting and expropriation legislation all would seem to confirm this conclusion.
“When four members of your family have been murdered on your farm, it is not really an attractive proposition anymore. When you see what has happened to Zimbabwe's commercial farming community…When your grazing is burned out four times a year, when your crops and stock are stolen, when you can do little to stop squatter invasions on what is after all your private property, and when your chances of being slaughtered in your home are the greatest in the world, why bother!”
With this background, it is understandable that many farmers are regarding the dismantling of the commando system, and the new Firearms Control Act as precursors to disarming the farmers and Zimbabwean style land invasions.
From The Great South African Land Scandal, by Dr Phillip du Toit.
Available from: www.salandscandal.co.za