Farm attacks in the Free State: Here are the numbers

08 June 2018 - 07:30 By Nico Gous
A maizefield farm. File photo
A maizefield farm. File photo
Image: Thinkstock Images

Most farms attacks in the last year in the Free State happened on Sundays‚ Mondays and Tuesdays with at least half of the attacks happening between 6pm and midnight.

This is according to information contained in the Farm Safety Report for June released on Thursday by agricultural industry body AgriSA.

The report contains a focus on the Free State compiled by Free State Agriculture (FSA) security risk analyst Dr Jane Buys focusing on the period April 2016 to March 2018.

Here are some of the numbers for 2016/17 and 2017/18 for the province:

  • Farm attacks decreased from 66 to 60; 
  • Farm murders increased from six to seven;
  • Attempted murders decreased from 13 to 12;
  • House robberies decreased from 39 to 38; 
  • Attacks on farms decreased from 61 to 50;
  • Attacks on small holdings increased from five to 10;
  • The peak months moved from March‚ August and November to August‚ October and November;
  • The number of victims increased from 96 to 106;
  • The number of victims aged between 50 and 80 years decreased from 46.88% to 31.31%;
  • The eldest victim was 87;
  • The number of perpetrators increased from 180 to 181;
  • In half of the attacks two to three attackers were involved;
  • Foreign nationals were involved in 10 of the 60 farm attacks in 2017/18;
  • Firearm usage increased from 51.51% to 61.67%;
  • Cellphone theft increased from 27.27% to 38.33%;
  • Meanwhile‚ stealing cash‚ vehicles‚ firearms and animals decreased;
  • The number of attacks where nothing was stolen decreased from 16 to 12; and
  • The arrest rate decreased from 33.33% to 30%.

Dr. Jane Buys found that criminals gained information from workers or former employees prior to farm attacks and could possibly be linked to syndicates.

“In some of the incidents the suspicious vehicle that transported the attackers was spotted a day before the attack by some farmers in the area. In a lot of cases specific details as to where safes are being located that harbour firearms‚ cash and valuable items are known to attackers.”

AgriSA wrote in a report in May that farm murders are at their lowest in the last 19 years. In the report they used the police crime statistics that showed 47 people were murdered on farms in 2017/18 and there were 561 farm attacks.

The year with the highest recorded number of farm murders was 1997/98 when 153 people were murdered. The number of recent farm attacks has almost halved from the highest recorded number of attacks in a single year which was 1‚069 in 2001/02.