Free State Agriculture (FSA) says it is concerned at the number of farm attacks and murders across the country.
FSA said agricultural communities were under siege by serious violent crimes and condemned all brutal acts on both farm dwellers and owners.
According to the FSA, from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2021, there were more than 298 farm attacks, including 37 murders on agricultural land in the Free State.
FSA safety risk analyst Jane Buys in a report said more than 143 commercial and emerging farmers were attacked in this period and 16 killed.
The report also said 126 workers, including foremen, workers and security guards, were attacked and 14 killed.
“Free State Agriculture has determined that almost 300 farms were targeted by an attack or murder in the five year period, which represents almost 4% of the Free State’s farming entities (7,951 according to Stats SA’s agricultural survey in 2018),” she said.
“It can therefore also be mentioned that 71 of the 88 towns in the Free State’s agricultural communities have been affected by a farm attack in the past five years.”
In a statement the FSA said when the statistics of the 2020-2021 financial year were compared with those of 2019-2020, it was clear there was an increase of five murders (41.67%) and an increase in 14 farm attacks (22.95%).
The number of farm attacks and murders is the highest in a five-year period in the Free State.
“What is worrying is the increase took place during the state of confinement during the Covid-19 pandemic where more visibility of the police and law enforcement was in place,” Buys added.
The report also said that of the 73 farm attacks and murders during the 2020-2021 period, 21 incidents included women and children.
Police spokesperson Motantsi Makhele said when government officials had a session with the farmers last year there were only a few incidents reported.
“After that measures were put in place to address their concerns, thus far we can say even though there are incidents reported they are not as high as the period of their concern,” he said.