In South Africa, being a farmer is more than twice as dangerous as being a police officer, and a farmer or farm worker is almost four times more likely to be murdered than the average South African.
Farmers and farming communities are soft targets. They must become hard targets. To achieve this, the entire community must be involved.
To make a significant impact on the crime situation, a well-functioning reservist system, which is the backbone of the Rural Safety Strategy, should be fully implemented and capacitated with the necessary resources to assist the police. Reservists should be supported with the necessary training, and the recruitment process must be enhanced. Agri SA for example has made formal recommendations to Parliament to remedy rural crime and reviving the reservist system has been considered and even prioritized in some areas.
Unfortunately, up until now it has been difficult for farmers to train as reservists because it requires at least six weeks away from the farm and for this reason other methods are now being considered.
Being proactive and securing the farm: Chris van Zyl, of Transvaal Agricultural Union South Africa (TAU SA), stresses the need to take proper precautions around the farm. He explains that the most important factor in preventing an armed attack, stock theft or arson is to stay informed and be aware about developing threats.
Make use of effective technology to provide the earliest possible warning of developing situations that are threatening. In this regard, optical observation capable of both daylight and night-time operation, electronic fences and invisible beams, all connected to alarm systems, are extremely helpful.
The 2009/2019 decade saw an increase of 86% in farm and rural attacks and murders compared to 1990/1999, according to the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU). The Silverton, Pretoria-headquartered organisation monitors attacks on members and non-members using information from local farmer associations and organisations, police and community policing forums as well as farm watch units.The TSU incident register recorded 1 125 farm attacks between 1990 and 1999.
This grew to 1 404 – a 25% increase – in 2000/2009. Over the past nine years TSU personnel have recorded 2 616 attacks on farms, include farm owners and workers as well as buildings, implements and other equipment, an 86% increase.
The figures for farm murders over the same time-frames also show increases with 637 recorded in 1990/99, up by 25% to 799 in 2000/2009 and down in 2010/2019 to 586.
“The figures by themselves are shocking,” said TAU Deputy General Manager, retired Major General Chris van Zyl, adding they were 2 022 lives – “members of the national agricultural community”.He further pointed out the statistics showed 5 148 times farm owners, their families and workers “feared for their lives”.
Another concerning factor is torture being reported more often during farm attacks. This includes people burnt with irons and having limbs broken. The high rates of aggression and purposeful torture in farm attacks and murders is what separates these crimes from other violent crimes. There is a definite link to the land question, the agricultural sector should see safety as the most important common factor,” Van Zyl added.It is 2,022 members of our farming community murdered since 1990. It is 5,148 times families and farm workers feared for their lives during a farm attack, but still it is not important enough for the government and President Cyril Ramaphosa to condemn this attack against farmers,” he said.“Just this year already, there were various opportunities for the president to give farm attacks and murders the needed attention, and he has failed to do so.
“The reasonable person can accept that he and, in turn, the ANC government see these crimes as inferior and approves it.”
Confirmation by Criminal Law Expert.The TLU SA figures were confirmed by criminal law expert and professor at the University of Pretoria, Llewellyn Curlewis. He said the figures were correct as a joint investigation was done by TLU SA.“There was a joint task team that compiled these statistics, comparing with previous statistics. These are daunting figures … because they show not only farm attacks are on the increase, but there is a global increase on all crimes,” Curlewis said.Van Zyl said the TAU was “fully aware” of South Africa’s national daily murder rate of 56. Quoting Institute of Security Studies (ISS) statistics he said there was a 17% increase in murders nationally over the past six years with the 2017/18 figure at “over 20 000”.
Do It Yourself (DIY) Security - A constant fear of being the next victim Much of the criticism of those who talk about farm attacks is based on the fact that the statistics show the rate of farm murders is actually lower than the general murder rate in South Africa. This may be true, but there’s no doubt that farming communities live under a constant threat of being attacked. While it’s also true that rural communities are vulnerable to crime, farm attacks seem to be a uniquely South African phenomenon.
Farm Security - a few useful tips. A good working relationship with the police and participate in local priority meetings will be an essential integral asset that is of course if the local police provide such meetings for community involvement, if not then maybe consider conducting the meetings independently as part of the Neighborhood watch systems. Fewer than half of the farmers are in a farming community has an active farm watch system. In urban areas, people are accustomed to providing their own security with alarm systems, gated communities and the like. For some farmers, security is more difficult and expensive. They live in remote areas and cannot rely on a quick response from the police and often must take care of themselves when confronted with a life threatening situation.
Domestic pets: Keep a small dog inside the house to act as an alarm and keep your larger dogs indoors at night or if you go out. Dogs that are kept outside can easily be poisoned. If this happens, a farm attack is likely to be imminent.
Perimeter security: Install movement-activated lights that shine outwards from the house. “If you hear something outside, keep lights inside switched off, as you can then see movement outside, but someone outside can’t see inside.
Sound the alarm and stay inside: An electric fence is only effective if it’s connected to an alarm system so do make sure that it is, conduct regular system checks because an alarm that makes a noise gives home dwellers a chance to react and means that criminals are unsure of what’s waiting for them. No criminal wants to be caught!
Security gates: Make certain that all security gates are kept locked and doors and windows are not left open, especially if leaving the property for any amount of time. Never go outside if you suspect there are intruders on your property. Contact your neighbors, your security company and the police, and ask those who are trained to come and determine if there’s reason for concern. Cooperation is key. It’s important that those who respond to such calls should not become impatient or ill-tempered if the ‘emergency’ turns out to be a false alarm.
Develop good relationships with your neighbors: Arrange and prepare between yourselves your course for action in regards an emergency and who undertakes which tasks. Every member of the team should have a set responsibility. For example; Someone who blocks roads, a first-aider, a small group trained to enter the farm premises Etc, etc.,
Strangers in the area: If neighbors see strangers in the area, especially those who ask questions, they should report it to their neighbors and to their security company and or police.
Farm workers: It is essential for security to develop good relationships with farm workers. Offer a reward to farm workers and community members to help stop theft and attacks. Guarantee with the farm workers that their identity will be retained as secret, keep your word and pay the reward.
Technology: Is vital and plays an increasing role in preventing crime. WhatsApp OR Telegram Message groups form an integral part of security as communication and is key in an emergency. For additional security it is highly recommended for farm security that farms have a Drone with on-board camera and CCTV should be placed at strategic points outside and inside the property. The equipment would prove to be an asset especially during an attack and used in evidence.
Police: Can not always be relied upon and most of the time they do not attend to an incident. As suggested best form of preventative action will be the neighborhood watch where members from farming communities work together with a common interest in making their neighbor hood safe, of course this is recommend for those resident in cities and towns too. However, where it is possible try to build a good relationship with the police, If police officers know you, they may be more likely to come to your assistance.
Firearms: Always be responsible. Firearms play an important role in self-defence for those living in remote rural areas. Although this is a highly sensitive topic and for anyone uncertain please contact: GOSA - Gun Owners of South Africa. Or best legal expert advice kindly contact: Pieterse & Curlewis Ic Attorneys - Notaries - Conveyancers. Telephone: In Pretoria. Phone number: 012 347 0032. Fax: 012 347 2484
PLEASE TAKE NOTE THAT > Police committee approves firearms amnesty. The parliamentary portfolio committee on police unanimously approved a firearms amnesty on Wednesday, saying this would help fight crime by clearing weapons from the streets. A recommendation will now be made to the National Assembly that the amnesty be approved. The committee proposed that the starting date for the amnesty be moved from; December 1 to May 2020 to allow administrative processes to be concluded.It also urged the ministry and the South African Police Service (SAPS) to consider a concession for people who were not able to renew their firearms licences, and to allow them to ... UTILISE THE AMNESTY PERIOD TO APPLY FOR THE NECESSARY LICENSES.
The modern criminal: Has changed and is often a proficient shot. In many cases, the police have lost gunfights with criminals, therefore one has to remember that a violent criminal does not have the same moral code as the average person on the street. They take their ‘work’ very seriously.Remember to wear your firearm out of sight; no one should be aware that you own one. And if you are ever unfortunate enough to be in a situation where you have no other choice but to shoot an attacker in self-defence, you will face criminal charges so be prepared. Let your lawyer handle any affidavit that you need to write. Do not talk to the police, let your lawyer do all the talking. It is your right to remain silent. You may have to appear in court and the state prosecutor will decide whether the case will be prosecuted or not. Remember legal council costs money and you will be required to pay bail and still maintain yourself and your family while awaiting trial and for this you will need to be prepared.
Ask yourself...yourself what a reasonable person would have done in such a situation. That’s what the law looks at.
To assist you further beneath are Security evaluation questions – Are you prepared?
A questionnaire compiled by the rural safety organisation Oorgrense Veiligheid provides insight into possible weaknesses or blind spots in your on-farm security.
Answering ‘no’ to any of these questions indicates a heightened risk factor:
1. Do you keep abreast of criminal activity in your district and on your farm?
2. Do you check for warning signs of crime and have you attended a course on recognising these?
3. Is there an organised farm watch in your area, and are you a member?
4. Do you check your yard and home for warning signs when you return from town or church?
5. Do you keep proper records of your workers’ details, with photographs and copies of ID documents?
6. Do you have a safety plan for your home and family?
7. Are your sleeping quarters separated from the rest of the house by a security gate?
8. Do you have a CCTV system that allows you to scout your yard without exiting your house?
9. Are your firearms readily accessible at night, and not locked away in a difficult-to-reach safe?
10. Are you a member of a WhatsApp safety group?
11. Do you have a two-way radio with battery backup for emergency communication?
12. Are all windows covered with burglar proofing, regardless of whether or not they can open?
13. Is your homestead protected by an electric fence connected to an alarm system?14. Does at least one dog sleep indoors at night?
Answering ‘yes’ to any of these questions indicates a heightened risk factor:
1. Do you pay your workers in cash?
2. Is it clear to an observer that you have cash on hand? For example, do you have a roadside stall or sell livestock for cash?
3. Have you had any labour disputes during the preceding 24 months?
4. Are you and/or your spouse over 60 years of age?
5. Do you exit your home at night to investigate barking dogs?
6. Do you leave the gate to your farmstead open during the day?
7. Do you leave gardening and other tools outside and unlocked during the night?Lastly... never keep large sums of cash in the house; pay your workers by direct transfer into their bank accounts; if possible, do not sell livestock or products for cash.Government closed down the Commando system and, to date, no real official system has replaced it. However, farming communities have developed their own, informal structures in its place.
Compiled by Admin for #BreakTheSilenceAboutSouthAfrica Facebook and Website Community.