While three suspects appeared in court for the murder of farmer Poenkie Bisset, Free State Agriculture (FSA) confirmed that the province was rocked by 53 farm attacks on agricultural land in the last eight months.
FSA said the 73-year-old Bisset from Smithfield is the tenth Free State farmer to be murdered since April this year. Bisset’s body was found by her husband, Arthur, on their farm Korhaanfontein a week ago. The suspects have been identified as Andries Matsoele, Msokoli Mnyameni and Motlatse Mahapane, a former employee of the Bissets.
According to Dr Jane Buys, safety risk analyst at FSA, there were 34 farm attacks in the same period last year, including six murders. She says this indicates an increase of 19 farm attacks (or 35.9%) in the province in 2020.
Buys further mentioned that in the majority of the attacks, cash, cell phones or firearms were stolen, while in three attacks vehicles were also stolen from victims.
In nine incidents, nothing was robbed due to the quick response by the victims to resist. In three attacks, sheep and cattle were stolen. In three further attacks attempts were made to steal cattle across borders.
She also pointed out that most of the farm attacks or murders took place during November. The traditional run-up to the festive season could possibly contribute to a further increase, the safety risk analyst warns.
Meanwhile Jacobus Stroebel, regional representative of FSA, reiterated that it is crucial that farmers form part of organised security structures in their area. He said, “The brutal murder of Bisset once again shows the vulnerability of farmers, especially our older people. It is important that farmers empower themselves, their families and workers and reduce their vulnerability as far as possible by always being vigilant.”