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Fri Nov 28 11:30:38 SAST 2014

View farm murders as a 'national crisis': Solidarity

Sapa | 27 November, 2012 13:29
Gun. File photo
Image by: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Murders and attacks on farm owners across South Africa should be regarded as a national crisis, the Solidarity Research Institute said on Tuesday

"Farm murders and attacks should be recognised for the national crisis that it is and therefore deserving of priority status and focused attention," the SRI said in a report, which was compiled with the help of a number of experts.

The report forms part of campaign against farm murders by Solidarity, the SRI, which is a division of the union, AfriForum, which is an independent, civil rights initiative of the union, and its publishing house Kraal Uitgewers.

It deals with the nature and extent of farm attacks, the levels of violence during the attacks, and the psychological effects on victims.

Commenting on the report, Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said the government was "irresponsible" for not dealing with farm attacks and murders in isolation.

"Government refuses to declare farm murders, in particular, a priority crime, because as far as government is concerned it simply forms part of the broader murder category," he said.

The researchers who helped compile the report agreed with Hermann.

"It is obvious that the government no longer considers the ongoing attacks on farms and the murder of persons involved in the farming community as a priority," said Institute for Security Studies researcher Johan Burger.

"The... response to the threat of farm attacks and murders is clearly not based on the acknowledgement that the farming community is disproportionally targeted when compared to the victimisation risk of other citizens or groups in South Africa."

University of Pretoria criminologist Prof Christiaan Bezuidenhout said South Africa was struggling to cope with violent crime in general and farm attacks in particular.

"I am under the impression that the current government is not taking the disastrous enigma of farmers under siege seriously enough and they are making the farmer the outcast instead of the provider of the nation."

Criminologist Lorraine Claasen said farm attacks were still not taken seriously despite the "harrowing details" of farm attacks.

"No human being deserves being killed and in such an inhumane, unjustified and brutal manner. Why is this allowed?"

Christopher Preece, 54, was hacked to death and his wife was wounded when three men attacked them with pangas on a farm in Ficksburg, in the Free State, on Saturday.

He was declared dead on the scene. His wife, Felicity Preece, 56, was stabbed several times.

The Christian Democratic Party said the murder was an indication of the government's inability to deal with the scourge of farm murders.

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