The civil rights organisation AfriForum announced an intensified campaign against farm murders today. It also directed an open letter to Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa, in which it demands the President to intervene. Ten practical steps that government should take to combat farm murders effectively are also detailed in the letter. To kick off the campaign, AfriForum today published a short documentary on the December 2010 murders of Attie (40), Wilna (36) and little Wilmien Potgieter (2) in the vicinity of Lindley.
The campaign was implemented after the previous month saw a sharp increase in farm murders. June 2020 witnessed 40 farm attacks and five murders, while 15 farm attacks and four farm murders were committed in July.
In addition to the work that AfriForum is doing to combat farm murders and support victims of farm attacks, the organisation’s intensified campaign includes:
- A ten-point-plan submitted to Pres. Ramaphosa, which contains steps that the South African government should take to combat farm murders;
- The publication of a documentary about the Lindley murders in December 2010, which will be the first of a series of documentaries on farm murders;
- An intensified awareness campaign in which the stories of farm attack victims are related; and
- An awareness campaign on people’s rights and how they can effectively fight back to defend themselves and their communities.
Ernst Roets, Head of Policy and Action at AfriForum, says that AfriForum does not ask for special treatment, but rather for equal treatment. “The South African government has no qualm with developing focused counterstrategies in response to a variety of unique crimes. These include violence against women and children, gang-related violence, copper cable theft, cash-in-transit heists and rhino poaching, to name but a few. It is only in the case of farm murders that we are suddenly confronted with, at worst, a justification of these crimes by cabinet members, or, at the very best, a downplaying of the existence of the crisis.”
According to Ian Cameron, AfriForum’s Head of Community Safety, the law provides for ample space in which law-abiding citizens can protect themselves. “This right must be taken up and utilised. It is high time that every law-abiding citizen who live and work in a rural area arm themselves within the framework of the law. Every person should know when they may shoot and must be able to protect themselves, their families, neighbours and community. Arm yourself and familiarise yourself with your weapon.”
Cameron also says that the increase in attacks will most probably not subside. “Government has done nothing but to let our rural communities down. We have to organise ourselves and act proactively to ward off attacks.”
Farmers and farm workers continue to fight back and defend themselves since attackers are increasingly being wounded or killed by their victims.
According to Dr Theo De Jager, Saai’s Chairperson of the Board of Directors, farm attacks and murders have reached a critical point. Foreign governments, multilateral institutions and international media increasingly ask difficult questions about this crisis. No solution is possible without government first recognising that South Africa has a problem with farm attacks and farm murders.
De Jager further says that government action should start with 1) a formal, independent enquiry into the drivers, nature and origins of, as well as the politico-social environment around the phenomenon of farm attacks, and 2) the establishing of a special multi-departmental unit to address the problem.
“For the current situation and especially given government’s position on it, there is no alternative for vulnerable farming families to arm themselves, raise their levels of alertness, be well organised in local farmers patrols and help themselves and each other in emergencies.”
Read the letter to pres. Ramaphosa here.
Watch the documentary on YouTube.