Farmers in South Africa face daily threats in the form of brutal attacks on their homes and families while trying to make a living producing food for the nation
The first time I heard of a farm attack was in 1997. We were on our way home from church. I heard my dad, also a farmer, discussing an incident that morning, where friends of ours was attacked and my 6 year old buddy's mom murdered. We were going to elementary school in a few weeks. My mom had to buy his school supplies for him.
On Christmas morning 2018, 21 years later, at 8 am, I was standing on my front porch on the farm where we lived, still in the same town, phoning my friend to wish him, his wife and two daughters a blessed Christmas. My 8 month pregnant wife was making coffee in the kitchen. As we were both going about our business,a man armed with a shotgun walked into our yard. My dogs alerted me to the threat and in the ensuing confrontation, I was shot in my leg and lower abdomen. I managed to reach the safety of the house and yelled to my wife to hide in our bedroom. I was able to get hold of another firearm and to call for help. All the while our attacker was trying to force entry into our house. His accomplices had fled at my first retaliation. By the time he reached our bedroom, I was able to fend him off. My wife and unborn baby was safe and apart from the mental trauma, unscathed. I had various gunshot wounds all the way from my knee to my lower abdomen. The attack lasted 3 minutes. The first person on the scene was a member of our farmer reaction unit that I had managed to call. The ambulance arrived soon after and raced me to the nearest hospital 60km away.
Please read further to get a better understanding of the current situation in rural South Africa and how you can help.
Since then farm attacks in our country have not declined, instead it has become an ever increasing occurrence. We conduct our daily business in fear, expecting an attack every time we leave our house and every time we return.
The first decade under democracy saw a country flourishing in its new identity and diversity, although not without problems, as from 1997 farmers were being targeted more regularly in what seemed like politically motivated attacks. This motivated the majority of farmers to pack up and move to the city or to emigrate, decreasing the number of farmers left to feed an ever increasing nation.
With a proposed law of expropriating farms without compensation being written into our constitution as we speak, and constant laws aimed at disadvantaging minorities, farmers cant be blamed for feeling that the whole system is against them. South Africa is the only country in the world, where a majority of 60 million citizens enacted laws to disadvantage a minority of 2 million people. One of these laws disbanded the commando system, a system where veterans served to aid police in crime prevention in farming communities.
Being a farmer in South Africa is currently one of the most dangerous professions in the world. In the last decade alone attacks on farmers have increased from 115 in 2010 (with 57 of these victims murdered) to 552 in 2019 (with 57 of these victims murdered) https://www.afriforum.co.za/wp-content/uploads/202.... Not only have farm attacks increased in number but also in brutality. Farm attacks are usually carried out by numerous attackers using anything from machetes to automatic rifles. The victims are tortured, raped and often murdered. The attackers using anything from boiling water to hot irons to to torture their victims. These victims include women and children.
level of violence and brutality that is employed in farm attacks is a
unique element which sets it apart from other crimes prevalent in South Africa. The reason
for this is that the level of force and violence that the attackers employ are in many cases not necessary to allow them to
complete their criminal acts successfully. It is perceived by farmers
that the intent to harm is greater than the actual value of the bait
With other forms of crime also on the increase in South Africa
the police are under increasing pressure with very limited resources at
their disposal. The local police station in the town where I reside
only has 1 police vehicle at it's disposal to react to all crimes within
a population of 80 000 people. In the whole of South Africa more than 5
000 police vehicles are not suitable for service.
Farms and smallholdings are mostly situated in rural and isolated areas. This causes significantly long response times from the police of the closest town and can, of course, only happen once the victims are able to call for help or when they are found and also only if the police have a means of transport. This also makes farms soft targets, especially if the attack involves a few attackers.
If the motive for the majority of farm attacks was theft of money or firearms, the question can be asked why most attacks occur while people are at home. Under normal circumstances, their presence should be a deterrent to anyone trying to break-in and commit theft.
The failing South African law-enforcement structure has left it up to the farmers themselves to protect their communities.
They can only do this by patrolling rural farmland, setting up surveillance on main routes and training reaction units to react to attacks in an effort to save lives. My experience has motivated me to become part of such a reaction unit to respond and prevent these brutal attacks.
All of these structures are currently being funded by the farmers themselves at great cost.
How can you help?
Your donation will be used to:
- Provide training to reaction units to respond to high-risk situations.
- Provide equipment for these reaction units to effectively respond and prevent these attacks.
- Fund a communication network of vhf radios for farmers to effectively communicate with their family at home and with each other in the event of these attacks.
By donating you will be preventing countless wives and children of having to go through the trauma of losing a husband and father, or a farmer from losing his family.