re posted from Praag.org
Farm attacks and murders: New Record
THE year 2015 saw the highest number of farm attacks in 15 years‚ with 318 attacks recorded and 64 farmers and workers murdered‚ a civil rights organisation and agricultural union TAU SA announced on Wednesday.
Although 64 murders were also committed in 2010‚ there has been a gradual increase in farm murders since 2011‚ in which 48 murders on farms were committed‚ the organisations said.
“In the 318 farm attacks in 2015‚ 570 farmers‚ their families‚ workers and guests fell victim. In 40 cases 65 farm workers were direct victims. Although various families with small children and babies were attacked‚ it seems that older people are targeted more often‚” the union said.
Henk van de Graaf‚ Assistant Head Manager at TAU SA‚ said that along with the drought‚ farm murders was another major problem that farmers had to contend with. He said the safety of farmers need to be looked at from an holistic perspective for the sake of food security.
On average, a farm murder was carried out every five and a half days during the first 104 days of 2015. TAU SA has kept detailed up-to-date annual statistics of farm murders in the country going back to 1990.
These statistics reveal that, since 1990, 1 737 farmers, family members, farm workers, farm worker family members and visitors to farms had been murdered. This equates to a farm murder being carried out every 5,3 days over the 9 234 days from 1 January 1990 to 14 April 2015.
While the farm murder figures were accurate, it had been difficult to obtain accurate details for SA’s farm attacks since 1 January 1990, said TAU SA’s assistant general manager for policy liaison, Chris van Zyl.
Farm attacks “are not always reported in the media and therefore the figures are to be regarded as extremely conservative”, he said.
TAU SA said the figures it had been able to collate showed that at least 3 494 farm attacks had taken place in SA from 1 January 1990 to 14 April 2015.
Last year TAU SA made a verbal presentation about farm murders in South Africa at the UN Human Rights Commission’s Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva. [See below]
Van de Graaf, Assistant General Manager submitted a more detailed report to the Secretariat.
This is the third occasion during Mr. Van de Graaf’s European tour that he mentioned the farm murder problem. The first was at a conference in Paris a day after the terrorist attacks, and also at a memorial event for the victims of Paris in Antwerp.
“Farm murders in South African are another form of terrorism that the world does not pay attention to,” was Mr Van de Graaf’s message.
As the South African Permanent Representative launched a scathing attack against TAU SA at last year’s meeting in Geneva, TAU SA’s proposal was not given to them, but they were asked rather to use their influence to get the situation in South Africa normalized.
UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL FORUM ON MINORITY ISSUES
Geneva Switzerland 24, 25 November 2015
Henk van de Graaf – Assistant General Manager: TAU South Africa
Last year we discussed the violence and atrocity crimes against minorities, and I pointed out that to be a farmer in South Africa, is perhaps the most dangerous occupation in the world with 133 per 100 000 of farmers being murdered. In spite of South Africa’s permanent representative’s hysteric tirade last year against you, for accepting our registration, and against us for raising our concerns, nothing has changed and since then nearly 60 more farmers have been murdered while violent attacks are on the increase. We regard this also as a form of terrorism, as is being experienced in France and other parts of the world.
TAU SA, the oldest agricultural Union in the Republic of South Africa, was established in 1897, and currently represents traditional commercial farmers, who mainly belong to the minority group of the Afrikaner people. We regard the Afrikaner farming community as a strategic minority within a minority group, as it has to provide food and food security for the South and Southern African population.
At the same time a process of land reform is initiated by our government which leads to farmers being displaced from their land and territories. Historically ungrounded accusations are made by governmental officials and members of the majority in the country that the Afrikaner farmers have stolen their land. Together with a president who sings a song: “Bring me my machine gun”, a climate for violence and atrocity crimes is created, with the judicial system not attending to it as would have been expected. Threats of land grabbing in the Zimbabwe style have also been made.
In South Africa the main problem with the criminal justice system lies in the inability of the South African Police Services to properly investigate crimes, and in particular farm murders, so as to eventually successfully prosecute such murderers. Investigations by the police are notoriously incompetent, and in many cases when the victims and complainants form part of the farming community and the Afrikaner community, a singular unwillingness exists to bring the perpetrators to book.
If prosecutors are not provided with properly investigated dockets so as to properly prosecute murderers and criminals, those that are brought before the courts on many occasions go free. Only a small percentage of perpetrators are caught and effectively prosecuted.
The police has intentionally stopped distinguishing between farm murders and other murders, and there is therefore no collection of data in order to access the scale and character of farm murders, save for the statistics kept by TAU SA.
Afrikaners are not promoted in the law enforcement bodies, as a result of stringent black economic empowerment principles applied in South Africa pertaining to jobs and posts in the government. This applies in particular to the police. They are therefore not sufficiently represented in government.
Criminal complaints by farmers and Afrikaners are not pursued with the same rigour and diligence applied to other complainants. There is no trust currently between such minorities and the state authorities, with a few exceptions.
Furthermore the state does not investigate and punish officials who neglect their duties to protect the rights of the Afrikaner minority, and in particular no special protection systems or special policing units have been put in place to protect farmers, nor has farm murders been recognised as a separate category of violent murders. Crimes against the farming community have essentially been ignored by the South African government and the SAPS. The government clearly has no political will to attend to its responsibilities in this regard and it wilfully neglects the rights of minorities in this regard.
There are no policies and practices in place to consult with farmers and the TAU on farm murders and no participation of such a minority with the state within the criminal justice systems exists. There are also no effective independent supervisory or investigatory bodies to effectively oversee the work of the police. Those that exist are not independent.
South Africa is furthermore seriously lacking in its acceptance, underwriting and adherence to international treaties and covenants. A list of those will be attached to our written submission to the secretariat.
TAU SA is therefore extremely concerned about South Africa’s apparent lack of interest in complying with international human rights principles, complying with its international obligations, and creating an environment through which expropriation of properties and investments at less than market value may be done.
All of the above should be seen against the lack of the South African government’s will to apply international criminal law in South Africa and its reluctance to ratify and enforce international covenants and treaties in South Africa.