49 farm murders in 2015/2016 - Khomotso Phahlane

Acting police chief says that overall there were 446 attacks on farms and small holdings last year

Criminals target isolated farms - top cop

Pretoria - Criminals attacking farmers and people who live on smallholdings have changed their approach and are now going for those that are more isolated, acting national commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane said on Thursday.

"Our analysis has shown that there is a particular modus operandi visible during the commission of these incidents of violence and crime on farms and smallholdings. The analysis has shown that there has been a major shift in target selection from smallholdings to more isolated farms," he said during a press briefing with AgriSA.

"Furthermore, another feature is that they mostly occur between Thursday and Saturday at night, while most victims are attacked while asleep."

The meeting was part of an on-going engagement with structures and various roleplayers within the agricultural environment in a bid to curb farm killings. Phahlane said earlier in May that there had been another meeting with AfriForum, where they had committed to continue with the engagements aimed at ensuring that farming and rural communities were safe.

He said the trends that they had seen indicated that the number of perpetrators at a time ranged from two to eight; split into two groups at most incidents. He said, while the crimes were alarming, there was a decrease in the number of farm attacks.

"We reported earlier in the year that we have since seen a serious decline in the number of reported incidents of violence on farms and smallholdings from 532 in the 2010/2011 financial year, to 446 in the last financial year; which is 2015/2016.

"In addition, there has also been a decline in the number of reported murders on farms and smal holdings, from 80 in the 2010/2011 financial year, to 49 in the 2015/2016 financial year," said Phahlane.

He added that police had identified KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Limpopo and Gauteng as hot spot provinces, with stations where more than two incidents of violence and murder were reported in the 2015/2016 financial year.

Phahlane said discussions were held on matters of common interest aimed at ensuring continuous collaboration and co-operation.

"Both parties have since agreed to have on-going engagement to collaborate on matters of common interest, in due course, and to chat a way forward based on our Back-to-Basics approach to Policing. In addition, we have agreed that there is a need for increased representation of farming communities in the Community Policing Forum structures countrywide," he said.

This article first appeared on News24 – see here