Stock theft is covered on the “Animal husbandry” page.
Seven out of 10 farming units experienced one or other form of crime and 37,2% of farmers experienced theft of infrastructure (Agri SA, 2019). The national farmers’ organisation places the overall agricultural crime related cost at R7, 7 billion. In addition, farmers spend some R1.9 billion on security measures in 2018 (Van Burick, 2019).
Some of the crimes may be opportunistic, but there is also evidence of organisation to the degree that the possibility of syndicates must be acknowledged (Agri SA & FSA, 2018).
The murder rate from farm attacks, in particular, has drawn much attention – or very little – depending on who you are and how you have experienced it. In the past, a farmer group took the matter to The Hague, and drew international censure against farm attacks in South Africa. This year (2019) has seen international coverage as far afield as the USA and Australia.
This is obviously an issue in agricultural circles, and it should be one beyond this. Farmers make a country food secure. It is not in a country’s interest that this sector is exposed to violent threat to the extent that people leave the sector and possible new entrants are discouraged from doing so.
Numerous farm attacks are prevented through early observation and detection of suspicious vehicles/persons moving in rural areas by both workers and farmers (FSA, 2018).
A number of safety tips have been passed on to farmers.
- An electric perimeter fence is a good idea. Failing that, a four-foot fence to keep the dogs around the house.
- Have security chains on the doors.
- Don’t sleep in a place where you are visible from the outside. Security gates should be installed at the sleeping quarters inside the house as well as outside. (It goes without saying that you should have burglar-proofing and an effective alarm system).
- Don’t go outside at night to investigate noises. Call the police or farm watch.
- A fence, rather than a wall, around the house ensures better visibility.
- Have a torch or two handy, preferably in a strategic place in the house.
- Test your sirens and alarm systems regularly.
- Have a first aid kit; know what is in it.
- Farmers should keep well-trained dogs on the premises, with some kept inside the house at night.
- Pay attention to their behaviour e.g. if they become inexplicably sick, or if their behaviour is different upon your return to the house (if they are fearful or bark at a particular place).
- On which part of the yard do they spend most of their time? The other side might well deserve some attention as it makes you vulnerable.
- Good relations and communication with farm workers is crucial.
- Know every person, who his/her family is, where they come from.
- Have copies of your workers’ identity documents.
- Depending on your relations with them, they could be included in a farm watch system. Certainly they should be encouraged to be alert on security matters and to report anything unusual – alien motor cars, strangers on the farm etc. Reward your workers for useful hints and information.
- Be aware of unusual behaviour and activity on their part especially if you have just hired or retrenched somebody e.g. if they vacate their posts without any reason.
- Cellphones should have the telephone numbers of the police and farm watch keyed in for easy access during an emergency.
- Keys should be carefully controlled to prevent their duplication. Remove all keys from all vehicles when not in use. Be aware if keys disappear or re-appear without explanation.
- Pay wages electronically.
- Selling products for cash to the public on your farm exposes you.
- As far as possible, avoid keeping large sums of money on the premises.
- Be wary of strangers who wish to buy livestock, certainly if you do not sell livestock as a rule. Or they may be “looking for work”, or making enquiries about somebody who is in your employ.
Communication & Social
- Have an emergency plan and practice it with your family so that each one of them knows what to do.
- Let your family know what your movements are.
- Liaise with your local police station or agricultural union on what the law allows you to do.
- Be attentive when you hear conversations of unusual events.
- Encourage a safety consciousness amongst your colleagues.
- Don’t plant trees or shrubs near gates. These are hiding places for perpetrators.
- Be aware of gates that are closed when they ought to be open.
Attitude & Routine
- Be alert at all times.
- Vary your routine.If you have two entrances to your farm, you have the advantage.
- It’s a good idea not going to sleep immediately after switching off the lights. Stay awake for a while.
Sources: www.agrisa.co.za; www.saps.gov.za , Kobus Visser (Agri SA) and Perpetrators of farm attacks: An Offender Profile, D Mistry & JDhlamini, 2001.
- Botha, L. 2019, May 1. “Vital tips for stepping up security on your farm”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at farmersweekly.co.za/farm-basics/how-to-business/vital-tips-for-stepping-up-security-on-your-farm/
- Uys, G. 2017, February 15. “Farm security: crucial tips to improve safety”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at farmersweekly.co.za/farm-basics/how-to-business/farm-security-crucial-tips-improve-safety/
- Janeke, A. 2019, May 16. “Beveilig jou plaas so, sonder dat dit sakke vol geld kos” [Secure your farm like this, without it costing sacks of money]. Landbouweekblad. Available at www.netwerk24.com/landbou/Nuus/beveilig-jou-plaas-so-sonder-dat-dit-sakke-vol-geld-kos-20190516
National strategy and government contact
Safety and security leads to increased confidence in the economy and social structures.
The National Development Plan (NDP) chapter 12 is “Building safer communities”. It sees the importance of an “integrated approach to make safety and security a reality for all South Africans in 2030”, and sets out practical measures towards this.
The Rural Safety Strategy (RSS) was developed in 2009/10 as a collaboration between the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), agricultural unions, the then Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs and the South African Police Services (SAPS). It has been revised and 2019 saw statements of support from role players (see Agri SA statement here). The RSS focuses on preventing farm attacks, stock theft, and farm infrastructure destruction.
“The good partnership approach within the RSS contributes significantly to the success in terms of a pro-active approach on farm attacks. Only 5 producers who are members of organized agriculture were targeted in farm attacks the past financial year in the Free State. It could be deducted that the involvement of farming communities to participate within the RSS, by building and improving relationships with SAPS, neighbors, communities, workers/dwellers on farms; to improve communication networks through safety WhatsApp groups and radio networks; by sharing information on pro-active and preventative measures; and lastly to enable them through training workshops by both organized agriculture and SAPS as to how to act/react in emergency situations, definitely contributes to safer rural areas and farming communities in the Free State” (FSA, 2018).
Tel: 012 393 1000
- EmergencyTel: 10111
- Crime Tip OffTel: 08600 10111
- National Firearms Call CentreTel: 012 353 6111 firearms [at] saps.org.za
- Civilian Secretariat for PoliceTel: 012 396 2500 This provides government with civilian policy management capacity, independent of the vested and occupational interest of the Police Service.
- Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID)Tel: 012 399 0000
Department of Justice and Correctional Services
Tel: 012 307 2000
Find crime statistics on the website, www.statssa.gov.za.
- AfriForum Tel: 086 10 200 30 afriforum.co.za and www.afriforum911.co.za
- Agri SA Centre of Excellence: Rural Safety Tel: 012 643 3400 agrisa.co.zaThe Agri Securitas Trust Fund supports the objective of the rural Safety Strategy i.e. community involvement and participation. It works via organisations like the farmer associations who are members of provincial organisations affiliated to Agri SA. The list of approved projects and some notes on each can be found on the website – take the Agri Securitas option.
- Business Against Crime (BAC) bac.org.zaProvincial contact details, statistics and reports can be found on the website.
- Gun Owners of South Africa https://gosaonline.co.za
- Security Association of South Africa (SASA) sasecurity.co.zaThe largest employers association in the security sector
- Security Industry Alliance (SIA) securityalliance.co.zaSIA is an alliance of security associations in South Africa. Members include electronic manufacturers, locksmiths, in-house security.
- South African Arms and Ammunition Dealers’ Association www.facebook.com/saaadaza/
- South African Intruder Detection Services Association (SAIDSA) saidsa.co.za Watchdog of the electronic security industry
- South African National Security Employers Association (SANSEA)sansea.co.za Represents employers in the guards sector
- South African Professional Firearm Trainers Council (SAPFTC) https://pftc.co.zaRepresent the professional firearm training industry
- Southern Africa Agricultural Initiative (SAAI) saai.org AfriForum’s agricultural wing, Saai has drawn up a family farmer resolution that will be presented to the United Nations (UN) in 2020. The family farmers resolution is available at www.boereresolusie.co.za.
- TAU SA Tel: 012 804 8031 tlu.co.za TAU SA conducts training for members during which self-defence, legal matters, first aid and fire fighting receive priority attention and these aspects are integrated to ensure a practical protection plan. Their website has a menu option which provides statistics of farm attacks and stock theft and more. The strategic objectives of this organisation may also be found here.The TAU SA has previously drawn international attention to the unacceptably high murder rate of South African farmers.
Find the link to security associations of South Africa at www.security.co.za/associations/page
- AlarmTecTel: 011 954 6293 alarmtec.co.za
- Aquila Services GroupTel: 041 365 7990 aquilagroup.co.za
- Beka SchréderTel: 011 238 0000 beka-schreder.co.za Floodlights, emergency lighting and other luminaries. Contact details of branches nationwide can be found on the website.
- Bernhard AgenciesTel: 011 440 1309 bernhardagencies.co.za Night-vision equipment e.g. binoculars.
- Cellsecure Holdings Tel: 012 644 1285 cellsecuregroup.com Automate and regulate your security by means of your cell phone e.g. any breach of security sends an SMSs to (up to) five numbers.
- Defence ConceptsTel: 011 776 9043 defcon1africa.com Reinforcing windows, tyres and windscreens: protection from forced entry, natural disaster, bullet resistant etc
- Fidelity ADT Tel: 0860 100 911 adt.co.zaFidelity ADT agreed on a partnership with Agri SA in 2019 and is providing training and integrated security systems.
- Fortis Group Tel: 012 643 1160 fortisgroup.co.zaTraining, equipment and risk assessments done
- HOTSURETel: 079 798 7241 https://www.facebook.com/selfdoen Monitoring systems for your vehicles, animals, house and other assets
- Intelligence BureauTel: 010 140 1023 In addition to investigations, electronic surveillance, trip wires and other security equipment is available
- JLinx Tel: 021 862 1066 jlinx.co.za Sensors, video surveillance and other security solutions
- Liebenberg & Associateshttp://liebenbergassociates.com Threat and risk assessments, security system design, security awareness training etc
- MJ Hood & Associates Tel: 011 234 7520 mjhood.co.zaSpecialist practitioners in the field of Firearm Law
- NWET Tel: 018 065 0000 nwet.co.zaVideo surveillance
- RTS Midland SA Tel: 061 015 0000 repeater.co.zaRTS Manufacture, Installation & Maintenance of Digital & Analogue Two Way Radio Equipment, Networks Systems, 4×4 Winches and Lattice Towers.
- Security Hyperstore Tel: 031 207 3114 securityhyperstore.co.za
- SmartThings smartthings.comSecurity in the home
- Snipr www.snipr.co.za Number plate recognition
- Southern Sky Operations Tel: 031 579 4141 skyops.co.zaFirearms, ammunition & accessories
- Specialised Exhibitions securex.co.zaSecurex South Africa is “Africa’s leading security and fire trade exhibition”
- Tactical Distributors SA Tel: 012 663 1185 Self defence, security equipment
- Uniclox Tel: 011 439 2000 Access & security solutions
- Veld en Vlei Goeters Tel: 014 533 0810 Night vision equipment
- WirelessAlert Tel: 021 781 0080 voicealert.co.zaand https://www.wip-tech.co.za Early intruder warning systems.
Training and research
- Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation Tel: 011 403 5650 and 021 447 2470
- Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Defence and Security Tel: 012 841 2911 cvanderm [at] csir.co.za
- Fortis Group Tel: 012 643 1160 Farm safety training
- Institute of Justice and Reconciliation Tel: 021 202 4071
- Institute for Security Studies Tel: 012 346 9500/2
- Leigh Matthews Stress and Trauma Centre Tel: 011 226 2200
- SASSETA (Safety and Security Education and Training Authority) Tel: 011 087 5555
- UNISA College of Law, School of Criminal Justice, Department of Criminology and Security Science Tel: 012 433 9475
“Traditionally research and the development and building of a distinct theory of crime in rural areas has been the ‘poor [rural] cousin’ of mainstream criminology and largely ignored or neglected” (Prof A. Minnaar, UNISA)
Statutory and other
- Crime Line SMS to 32211 Your anonymous crime tip-off line
- CrisisOnCall Tel: 0861 57 4747 A 24-hour countrywide call-centre to deal with any crisis. One feature is the trip monitoring service which provides total peace of mind to farmers and their families when travelling back to their farms. CrisisOnCall contributes on a monthly base to the Agri Securitas Trust Fund and thus contributes to the safety of people in the country.
- Die Plaaswag, an App mobilises your community during emergencies and for reporting crime
- Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) Tel: 012 337 5500 Regulates the private security industry
- South African Human Rights Council (SAHRC) Tel: 011 877 3600
Websites and publications
Visit the websites of role players listed earlier on this page.
- The website https://farmattacks.co.za reports on farm attacks and murders.
- Agri SA‘s Farm security: A view from the ground draws on experience and analysis by two provincial affiliates, Kwanalu and Free State Agriculture (FSA) and provides for a worthwhile read for anyone looking into the matter.
- Find the “Farm attack” menu option at https://southafricatoday.net.
- The #StopFarmAttacks websites: https://stopplaasaanvalle.co.za or https://stopfarmattacks.co.za.
- Find crime statistics at www.crimestatssa.co.za.
- The ISS Crimehub is South Africa’s “most complete source for ready-to-use information, statistics and analysis on crime and safety”. Visit https://issafrica.org/crimehub
- Roets, E. 2018. Kill the Boer: Government complicity in South Africa’s brutal farm murders. Centurion: Kraal.
- Kruger T., Lancaster L., Landman, K., Liebermann, S., Louw, A. & Robertshaw, R. 2016. Making South Africa Safe: A Manual for Community-based Crime Prevention.Pretoria: CSIR. Available at csir.co.za/sites/default/files/Documents/Making%20South%20Africa%20Safe.pdf
- Minnaar, A.2016. Research, theory and a developing criminology for rural crime. Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology29(1). Available at https://journals.co.za/content/crim/29/1/
- Oorgrens Veiligheid www.facebook.com/groups/veiligheidsisteem
- Van Zyl, C. & Hermann, D. 2011. Treurgrond – 20 jaar van plaasaanvalle in Suid-Afrika. Centurion: Kraal. [Available in English as Land of Sorrows]
- The National Directory on Services for Victims of Violencecan be downloaded at westerncape.gov.za/general-publication/national-directory-services-victims-violence
- Swart, L. 2003. Oorwin Plaasaanvalle. Cape Town: CLS Publishers. [Available in English as Counteract Farm Attacks]
- Find the thesis done by Veronica Hornschuh (University of Pretoria) on farm attacks at http://upetd.up.ac.za.
- Mistry, D. & Dhlamini, J. 2001. Perpetrators of farm attacks: An Offender Profile. Institute for Human Rights and Criminal Justice Studies.
- Safety & Security Review Africa (magazine) https://safetyandsecurityafrica.com
- Javier A. 2020, October 20. “Free State black farmers: It’s not a race issue, we are all affected” (Video). Available at https://ewn.co.za/video/11964/free-state-black-farmers–it-s-not-a-race-issue–we-are-all-affected
- Watch “Wat sê die statistiek oor plaasaanvalle?” which showed on kykNET’s PRONTUIT on 27 May 2019 on YouTube. Go to youtube.com/watch?v=Lyvu9NUVDGM&feature=youtu.be
- Southern, L. 2018. Available at https://laurensouthern.net/farmlands/
- ABC News (Australia). 2018, July 31. “White farm murders in South Africa – Race hate, politics or greed?” Available at youtube.com/watch?v=JU4m8hkf-O0
- 2018, May 16. “Ernst Roets on Fox News”. Available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dMYhLZb96Q
- Henri LeRiche. 2014. “War of the Flea – Hate crimes in South Africa” (a Rian van der Walt film). Available at youtube.com/watch?v=cAfzp9eItCU
- Marais S. 2021, August 24. “‘Farm murders and attacks remain extremely concerning’”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/south-africa/farm-murders-and-attacks-remain-extremely-concerning/
- Roy T.J. 2021, August 20. “FACT CHECK: Does SA have world’s 2nd-highest rate of firearm-related deaths?”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2021/08/20/fact-check-does-sa-have-world-s-2nd-highest-rate-of-firearm-related-deaths
- Coleman A. 2021, May 24. “‘Proposed new gun legislation bizarre and incongruous'”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/south-africa/proposed-new-gun-legislation-bizarre-and-incongruous/
- Van der Putte W. 2021, February 1. “LAUNCH DRIVE: Ford now offering armoured Ranger bakkies through SVI partnership”. IOL. Available at www.iol.co.za/motoring/industry-news/launch-drive-ford-now-offering-armoured-ranger-bakkies-through-svi-partnership-fb39183e-406c-49dd-a494-efae9d4606a3
- Mlamla S. 2020, December 3. “SANDF and Agri SA join forces to curb farm murders, improve rural safety”. IOL. Available at www.iol.co.za/capeargus/news/sandf-and-agri-sa-join-forces-to-curb-farm-murders-improve-rural-safety-38e485c0-5158-4968-9fd2-7b613140b785
- Ntshidi E. 2020, November 12. “Safety and stock theft dominate as Cele engages farmers in Bethlehem”. 702. Available at www.702.co.za/articles/401437/safety-and-stock-theft-dominate-as-cele-engages-farmers-in-bethlehem
- Reporter. 2020, November 10. “Didiza condemns murder of Free State farmer “. SA News. Available at www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/didiza-condemns-murder-free-state-farmer
- Moodley S. 2020, October 12. “Violent crime a threat to community safety, food security – Ramaphosa”. Polity. Available at www.polity.org.za/article/violent-crime-a-threat-to-community-safety-food-security-ramaphosa-2020-10-12
- Reporter. 2020, September 2. “Parliament speaks out on farm murders”. SA News. Available at www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/parliament-speaks-out-farm-murders
- Reporter. 2020, September 2. “Partnerships crucial to curb farm murders, says Agriculture Deputy Minister”. SA News. Available at www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/partnerships-crucial-curb-farm-murders-says-agriculture-deputy-minister
- Dean S. 2020, August 1. “Tackling crime along the South Africa-Lesotho border”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/opinion/by-invitation/tackling-crime-along-the-south-africa-lesotho-border/
- Mlamla S. 2020, July 20. “WATCH: Protest against farm murders outside Parliament”. Cape Argus. Available at www.iol.co.za/capeargus/news/watch-protest-against-farm-murders-outside-parliament-51210398
- Van Wyk J. 2020, July 10. “Cele: Plaasveiligheid is ernstige kwessie” [Cele: Farm security is serious issue]. Landbouweekblad. Available at www.netwerk24.com/landbou/Nuus/cele-plaasveiligheid-is-ernstige-kwessie-20200710
- News24 Wire. 2020, June 26. “DA wants farm murders to be declared a hate crime”. The Citizen. Available at https://citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/politics/2310139/da-wants-farm-murders-to-be-declared-a-hate-crime
- Van der Walt J. 2020, April 18. “Wave of crime hits agriculture industry during lockdown”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/south-africa/wave-of-crime-hits-agriculture-industry-during-lockdown/
- Botha L. 2020, January 8. “Macadamia and avocado theft costs industry millions”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/south-africa/macadamia-and-avocado-theft-costs-industry-millions/
- Reporter. 2019, October 13. “Strategy against rural area crime relaunched”. SA News. Available at www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/strategy-against-rural-area-crime-relaunched
- Van der Walt, J. 2019 September 13. “Farm murders down, but stock theft on the increase – SAPS”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/south-africa/farm-murders-down-but-stock-theft-increase/
- Reporter. 2019, September 4. “Stealing wool off the sheep’s back”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/opinion/blog/letter-from-the-editor/stealing-wool-off-the-sheeps-back/
- Van Burick, N. 2019, July 4. “Veiligheid kos boere amper R2 miljard in 2018” [Security costs farmers nearly R2 billion in 2018]. Landbouweekblad. Available at netwerk24.com/landbou/Nuus/veiligheid-kos-boere-amper-r2-miljard-in-2018-20190704
- Western Cape Agriculture. 2019, June 7. “WC: Western Cape Agriculture welcomes government plans for rural safety”. Available at polity.org.za/article/wc-western-cape-agriculture-welcomes-government-plans-for-rural-safety-2019-06-07
- Van Burick, N. 2019, June 4. “Plaasaanvalle ”n ernstige krisis’” [ Farm attacks: a series crisis]. Landbouweekblad. Available at netwerk24.com/landbou/Nuus/plaasaanvalle-n-ernstige-krisis-20190604
- Van der Spuy, M. 2019, June 25. “Vaalharts-gemeenskap neem veiligheid in eie hande” [Vaalharts community take safety into their own hands]. Landbouweekblad. Available at netwerk24.com/landbou/Nuus/vaalharts-gemeenskap-neem-veiligheid-in-eie-hande-20190624
- Van der Spuy, M. 2019, June 21. “Plaasmoorde: Dit raak net al erger, meen TLU SA” [Farm murders: it’s only getting worse]. Landbouweekblad. Available at netwerk24.com/landbou/Nuus/plaasmoorde-dit-raak-net-al-erger-meen-tlu-sa-20190620
- Hlatshaneni, S. 2019, May 25. “AfriForum farming wing takes farm murder issues to UN”. The Citizen. Available at https://citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/general/2135067/afriforum-farming-wing-takes-farm-murder-issues-to-un/
- Botha, L. 2019, May 1. “Vital tips for stepping up security on your farm”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at farmersweekly.co.za/farm-basics/how-to-business/vital-tips-for-stepping-up-security-on-your-farm/
- Brandt, K. 2018, November 12. “Police committee ponders bolstering police resources in rural areas”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2018/11/12/police-committee-ponders-bolstering-police-resources-in-rural-areas
- Gous, N. 2018, October 14. “AfriForum in Australia to talk about farm attacks and murders in SA”. TimesLive. Available at timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-10-14-afriforum-in-australia-to-talk-about-farm-attacks-and-murders-in-sa/
- Coetzee, K. 2018, September 28. “DIY security: the only way to ensure your safety”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at farmersweekly.co.za/tax-and-management/global-farming/diy-security-way-ensure-safety/
- 2018, September 11. “57 murders reported per day in SA”. SA News. Available at www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/57-murders-reported-day-sa
- Roets, E. 2018, September 4. “Farm murders and the question of genocide”. PoliticsWeb. Available at politicsweb.co.za/opinion/farm-murders-and-the-question-of-genocide
- Kruger, C. 2018, June 15. “Plaasmoorde: Moenie pyn vergelyk, se Mlengana” [Farm murders: don’t compare pain, says Mlengana]. Landbouweekblad. Available at netwerk24.com/landbou/Nuus/plaasmoorde-moenie-pyn-vergelyk-se-mlengana-20180615
- Uys, G. 2018, May 31. “Agri SA responds to farm murder statistics”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/south-africa/agri-sa-responds-farm-attack-statistics/
- 2018, May 9. “Prof says AfriForum farm murder stats misleading and genocide claims are false”. 702. Available at www.702.co.za/articles/302809/prof-says-afriforum-farm-murder-stats-misleading-and-genocide-claims-are-false
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