Even though Mzansi saw a general decrease in crime last year as a result of the multiple Covid-19-related lockdowns, farm crimes, unfortunately, did not follow the same pattern.
Afriforum Research recorded 63 farm murders and 382 confirmed farm attacks for 2020. According to Free State Agriculture (FSA), this province recorded the most farm attacks out of all the provinces logging an increase of 53,85%.
The Free State also had an increase of 14,1% in murder cases and 39,2% in attempted murder incidents during the same period. The recent murder and attempted murder figures are the highest in a five-year period.
Equip SAPS with much-needed skills
According to FSA the increase is proof that government does not know how to properly equip the police with the necessary skills to combat the crime effectively.
High crime areas with regard to farm attacks and farm murders are smallholdings in Bloemfontein and in areas such as:
- Viljoenskroon and
Dr Jane Buys, safety risk analyst for FSA, said that the crime in the province is unacceptable.
“During the Covid-19 lockdowns with movement of restrained farmers, we experienced how government was serious about applying regulations.
“We refuse to accept that the crime wave that terrorises communities should simply be accepted that way. The re-implementation of the rural safeguarding strategy with the same seriousness and political willpower is simple and can be done,” she said.
Buys reported that although the armed robbery figure dropped by 12.5%, home and business robberies increased by 2.7 and 6.8%, respectively.
“These figures of serious violent crime, recently reproduced by the minister of police in its quarterly release, have a direct impact on all communities, including farming.”
Increase in stock theft
FSA also revealed that the Free State reported the third highest rate of stock theft offences. The minister pointed out that 74,947 pieces of livestock were stolen in the three-month period, of which 45% were sheep, 23% cattle and 21% goats.
Apart from the 36 towns that indicated an increase of 10% and more in stock theft, there are still 25 towns that reported the same or more stock theft cases in a nine-month period from 1 April to 31 December 2020 than occurred in the previous financial year, says the FSA.
According to Buys, the towns should receive serious priority and attention in terms of increased crime prevention actions and operations.
Jakkals le Roux, chairperson of FSA’s rural safety committee, believes the implementation of the revised rural safeguarding strategy is now crucial.
FSA requests the police, together with farming communities, to establish this strategy with accompanying safety plans, increased policing actions and the establishing of task teams in rural areas to ensure improved safety in communities.