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Eight farm attacks in NC

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“The information indicates that attacks are slightly less likely to occur on a Sunday, Monday and Wednesday.”

A REPORT on farm attacks and murders by AfriForum shows that there were a total of eight farm attacks in the Northern Cape in 2019, while two deaths were recorded in the Province.

Releasing the report this week, Lorraine Claasen, AfriForum’s crime analyst, pointed out that there were a total of 552 farm attacks in 2019 as opposed to 433 in 2018, an increase of 27%.

“Almost 1 000 people were victims of these 552 attacks,” Claasen said.

“2019 saw 57 farm murders, and although every farm murder is a tragedy, this is only three more than in 2018. The Free State had the most murders (11), while 30% of all farm attacks occurred in Gauteng.”

According to the report, the number of murders in the Free State has increased significantly over the last three years, with the highest number of murders occurring in the Free State, followed by Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.

In the Northern Cape, the number of farm attacks dropped from 14 in 2018 to eight in 2019. The number of recorded attacks on farms and smallholdings, however, increased in seven of the nine provinces of South Africa.

“The increase in attacks on farms is worrying as the distance from farms to the nearest towns has always been viewed as a deterrent in identifying the property which the perpetrators intend to attack. The rural nature of most farms is advantageous to perpetrators, however, in the sense that long distances to neighbouring farms provide them with more time to commit crimes without being noticed by people passing by.

“To overcome the sometimes bad condition of rural roads, the vehicles of the victim/s, which are suitable for the terrain, may be used to flee the scene and are left abandoned once the criminals are able to switch vehicles.”

The other province to show a decrease was Mpumalanga, where the number of attacks dropped from 63 to 48.

The highest number of attacks was in Gauteng, where it increased from 114 in 2018 to 167 in 2019.

According to the survey there was no significant difference in the frequency of attacks per day of the week.

“The information indicates that attacks are slightly less likely to occur on a Sunday, Monday and Wednesday.”

Most attacks are committed between 6pm and 3am.

The report states further that 905 victims were attacked in the 552 farm attacks that were analysed.

“In 57% of incidents, only one victim was attacked, whereas two victims were attacked in 30% of incidents. Research indicates that the more people present at the intended target, the less likely it is for an attack to occur. In 66% of the incidents, the victims were the owners and the owners’ families. The number of workers attacked (26% of incidents) seems to have increased from past years.”

The average age of victims is 55 years, with the majority of victims (42%) aged between 60 and 79 years, with a significant 28% of victims aged between 40 and 59 years.

A total of 1 575 attackers were reported to have committed these crimes, with the average number of attackers per incident being three.

“It should be noted, however, that this number may be higher due to uncertainty from victims whether there were more attackers involved and/or present than they were actually aware of or whom they saw themselves. It is not uncommon for farm attackers to have lookouts stationed around the properties or to have a getaway vehicle positioned out of sight of where the attack occurred. It is commonly reported that attackers wore balaclavas and/or gloves in order to conceal their identity or to keep the victim from being able to identify the perpetrators at a later stage,” the report states.

‘Victims were overpowered, ambushed and surprised inside their place of residence in many of the cases.”

Attackers were reported to have gained entry by breaking open security doors, burglar bars, doors or windows, or through doors or windows that were left open.

“Specific crimes committed were only reported in 239 (i.e. 43%) of incidents recorded. It can be assumed, however, that in the case of a serious crime it would have been recorded.”

AfriForum stated that the percentage of cases (26%) where the attackers attempted to murder one or all of the victims was extremely worrying.

“This shows that the perpetrators intended to murder the victims, although the victims survived. The number of farm murders would have been higher if the attackers were successful in carrying out their intentions.”

In 9% of the incidents reported, one or more victims were murdered.

Other information from the report is that 18 females were raped during this period. In some cases, victims were raped by more than one attacker.

One or more victims were kidnapped during the attack in 11 incidents, while one or all of the victims were subjected to various means of torture in 22 incidents. Some of these included burning victims with plastic, clothing irons or boiling water, or being doused in petrol.

Arson was committed by intentionally setting houses alight in three cases reported, twice with the victims locked inside.

The use of knives, pangas, axes and other sharp objects during attacks suggests that the perpetrators are willing and able to come within direct contact of the victims in order to cause harm. “These weapons are also preferred by some attackers as the risk of being heard would be less as opposed to using a firearm.”

Other weapons used included torches, sheep shears and screwdrivers.