Farm Murders: Fact vs Fiction

By Nigel Branken

Social commentator, Nigel Branken, compiles real data that disproves the mythology around white genocide and farm attacks in South Africa

1. Farm murders are extremely rare in South Africa. In 2019 there were 21,022 murders in South Africa… of these only 57 were farm murders (less than 0.3% of murders in SA are farm murders). Farm murders’ rate-calculations, which show farm murders to be more common per population group, are flawed – they do not use the same data set for the denominator and the numerator in the calculation.

For example, they assume that farm murder numbers are only of farmers on commercial farms – but the 57 farm murders are in fact of those living, working and visiting farms and small holdings, therefore in order to calculate a rate you have to calculate how many people live, work and visit farms and small holdings every year. When you do this correctly, the rate is exponentially lower than the 34 per 100,000 murders in all of South Africa per year.

2. Every farm murder receives coverage in multiple media sources (there is no cover up).If you Google “murder in South Africa”, you will see that farm murders receive way more than 0.3% of news coverage with regard to all murder coverage. This means that farm murder receives disproportionately higher coverage than all other murder. The coverage is so disproportionate in fact that it would be fair to say that farm murders get exponentially more coverage than any other type of murder in South Africa.

3. The government does not deny that farm murders exist. Yes, the president once said, “Whoever gave him [Trump] that information was wrong, on the tweet itself he was completely misinformed. There are no killings of farmers or white farmers in South Africa,”. When taken in context, you can see he is referring to Trump’s tweet which refers to “large scale killings of farmers” and the accompanying narrative that white farmers, in particular, are targeted. There is no evidence to suggest this (as indicated above). His spokesperson clarified the context of the statement immediately. He has repeatedly talked about farm murders and addressing them, and as recently as the 15 July 2020, President Ramaphosa said “The issue of farm murders is an issue that is of great concern to us, as of course the killing of many other people including women in our country. Anyone who is killed or is murdered, is of great concern to all of us and the attacks that are taking place on farms are issues that we are concerned about.”

He went on to say, “I was talking to officials in the police today and I was saying we need to focus also on what is happening in a number of places including our farms, including the various places where our people live.” Government also uniquely reports farm murder statistics separately – so that it can be tracked and monitored.

4. Government (SAPS) farm murder statistics are accurate and consistent with farm murder statistics provided by other sources including Afriforum, the Transvaal Agricultural union, and the Freedom Front Plus. There are no other databases which show higher numbers of farm murders indicating any kind of cover up.

5. Government is working with local farming communities to keep them safe through the National Rural Safety Strategy which was developed in 2011 and is regularly reviewed and updated. This strategy was developed with organised agriculture organisations, farmers’ associations and farmer unions, all registered labour unions and civil rights organisations and Community Policing Forums (CPFs).

6. Farm murder numbers have been steadily decreasing and are at a 20 year low

2001/2 – 140

2002/3 – 103

2003/4 – 88

2004/5 – 82

2005/6 – 88

2006/7 – 86

2007/8 – not available

2008/9 – not available

2009/10 – not available

2010/11 – 80

2011/12 – 59

2012/13 – 59

2013/14 – 57

2014/15 – 60

2015/16 – 49

2016/17 – 66

2017/18 – 62

2018/19 – 57 (Source: SAPS)7.

7. Farm murders do not “all involve torture”… torture in farm murders is extremely rare. Afriforum’s analysis of torture in their annual farm attacks and murder reports show no torture in more than 95% of cases. This is consistent with rates of torture in urban housebreaking cases. The Institute for Security Studies Report: “Violent crime on farms and smallholdings in South Africa.

– Policy Brief 2018″ found that farm attacks are relatively similar to attacks in urban areas, such as house or business robberies (both of which are sub-categories of ‘robbery with aggravated circumstances’). In fact, University of South Africa crime researcher, Dr Rudolph Zinn, interviewed house robbers and created a report profiling them. The study, which is backed up by the police who have conducted similar research, revealed that as much as 13% of house robbers would torture their victims using anything from molten plastic to boiling water and hot irons to ensure that the homeowner hands over all of his valuables such as cash and jewellery. In other words, there are higher rates of torture in urban areas than in rural areas according to this study.

8. Farm murders are not only of white people – there is no white genocide. In fact the statistics and studies consistently show that whites are far less likely to be murdered than their black counterparts in South Africa.

9. There is no political motive for the overwhelming majority of farm murders… they are normally criminally motivated.Dr. Johan Burger, of South Africa’s Institute For Security Studies said: “Look, I was in the South African police for 30 years,”… “And I was in charge of investigating a number of individual farm murders. I was also tasked with looking into the subject overall. I have actively tried to find instances of political murders. But I never found even one.” He added that farm attacks may be partially motivated by the isolation of farmers; because their land is further away from neighbors and police stations, they may be easier to rob. There is, however, a political motive for exaggerating farm murders – tied to resisting land reform.

10. Every single farm murder is a tragedy and the life of every person murdered matters.We need to acknowledge that while the farm murder narrative has been hijacked by white supremacists, and they have exaggerated them and often used them to advance an anti-transformation agenda, every murder that happens in our country is one too many.