News / South Africa / Crime
The continued spike in farm murders may have a serious impact on food security in the country as attacks lead to the closure of
production the could take up to eight years to recommence, experts say.
Farm attacks and farm murders have spiked in the recent months, with the agricultural sector being hit by 139 attacks and
26 farm murders in the past six months.
According to minority rights group AfriForum, five farm murders were reported in June and another five in July, with four committed in the first week.
According to agriculture union TLSU SA, the country has about 30 000 farmers, each producing food for 1 500 people. Once a farm owner is killed, depending on the circumstances, either the family of the deceased inherits the farm or it is sold.
But the farm usually goes out of production, said AfriForum.
“When the farmer is murdered or attacked, we find that the production on the farm stops and, in some cases, people lose
their jobs due to production stopping.
“The impact would differ depending on the type of farm.
“Sometimes, when a farmer leaves or is murdered, the farm manager, or family, or someone else continues operations.
“But sometimes, production stops completely,” said AfriForum deputy chief executive officer Ernst Roets.
Another effect of farm attacks is that farmers opt to sell their farms due to the danger and risk of being targeted.
“They sell farms and go out of producing food because it is dangerous to stay on the farm.
“Being a farmer and a worker, you are a soft target.Farm murders have an effect on food security, although it is not to such a degree that we experience it in the shops [when buying food],” said chair of AgriSA’s centre of excellence on rural safety, Tommy
But, depending on the farm’s commodity, it could take up to eight years for a farm to return to full production once the produce of goods and stock was halted, said general manager of TLU SA, Bennie van Zyl.
“It can take up eight years before getting the farm up to production again, depending on the commodity and if the family can go on with activities.
“If it goes to another farmer, it can take that long before a farm can produce. If that knowledge of the farm is lost, it is not
there anymore. A new farmer has to learn again and start again,” said van Zyl.
Livestock theft could also impact on food security, a crime which has started to trend in the Free State, said Esterhuyse.
“Statistics show that half of the farm attacks in the Free State are on workers and the motive is to rob the stock. If the worker
is on the farm alone and looks after cattle, they kill or assault some of them to rob stock,” said Esterhuyse.
He attributed the recent spate of farm attacks to lockdown regulations, which prohibited farm watches from patrolling
for crime prevention.
He said the coronavirus pandemic had also led to a loss of income for many.
“Hungry people are dangerous people. The fact that the police withdrew their rural safety coordinators to assist with services for Covid-19 pandemic also contributes to the increase.”
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