Hundreds of farmers and workers on tractors, excavators, harvesters, trucks or horses took to the streets of Mookgophong on Tuesday, protesting what they said was a spike in attacks on farms.
Dozens of farmers are killed in crime-plagued South Africa every year, and police statistics show that 49 murders occurred on farms in the 12 months up to April.
The protest was held as three suspects appeared in Mookgophong magistrate’s court on charges of murdering a 79-year-old farmer in March.
A small group of farmers stepped out of their vehicles and held up their arms crossed in an “X”, symbolizing their call for an end to the attacks.
The farmers want improved security from the police and better prosecution rates of crimes related to farm attacks.
“This is a real problem, we feel it on our skin every day, the government also has to do something about that because we are also taxpayers,” farmer Hendrik Botha told AFP.
Another farmer Toby Swan said “we don’t need any of this in our country and we need to stop this. This is killing the whole industry.”
Protester Adriaan Pont said that because farmers live in isolated areas, “we are soft targets”.
Murders are generally high in South Africa. In the 12 months up to April, the police recorded 21,325 murders, averaging 58.4 per day and showing a 1.4-percent increase over the previous year, according to official police statistics.
Of that number, 49 were farmers.
AfriForum said 216 attacks have been recorded so far this year, 26 of which were murders.
Attacks dropped drastically during the first few months of the country’s coronavirus lockdown due to restricted movement, but from June the assaults “just exploded”, according to Afriforum’s Ian Cameron.
Police Minister Bheki Cele last month told Parliament that “we do take serious the issue of farm safety”.
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