Farm Attacks: mostly greed and need – not always hate

Criminal intent and socio-economic desperation rather than racial hatred are behind many farm attacks in South Africa. This has emerged from a BizNews interview with former Public Prosecutor with the Department of Justice and ex South African Police Service (SAPS) Brigadier Julius Weideman. He is now a rural safety expert who has founded Landelike Beveiliging SA (Rural Safety SA). Weideman says Landelike Beveiliging SA is a non-political organisation that aims to get behind the real reasons of crime in the rural communities to better inform its response in addressing the risk and minimising the detrimental consequences to the economy.  Meanwhile, says Weideman, the NPO’s primary objective is to prevent loss of life and injury – irrespective of what the motive of the perpetrator may be.Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:09 – Introductions
  • 00:25 – Julius Weideman on if there’s any evidence to suggest that farm killings are politically motivated
  • 04:48 – On providing legal support to a committee that investigated farm killings and what was found
  • 06:55 – On his organisation called Landelike Beveiliging SA (Rural Safety SA) and their aims
  • 09:22 – Engagements with the police
  • 10:59 – Why has rural safety deteriorated so badly over the years
  • 13:44 – in which areas are you already operating
  • 15:02 – On if they want to expand nationally
  • 15:51 – Conclusions

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Highlights from the interview

Criminal intent and socio-economic desperation rather than racial hatred are behind many of the farm attacks in South Africa.

This has emerged from an interview with a former Public Prosecutor with the Department of Justice and former South African Police Service (SAPS) Brigadier Julius Weideman.

Weideman is the founder of the NPO Landelike Beveiliging SA (Rural Safety SA).

Weideman reveals that while he was in the police force, he provided administrative legal assistance to a committee that investigated farm killings.

“In 1996, the first Minister of Police at the time was Minister Steve Tswete. He then established a committee and the instructions or the mandate to the committee was to investigate, you know, crime matters, and specifically then also to give him feedback in respect of the motive and whether there’s any proof that will substantiate the contention that farm murders following the 1994 elections were politically motivated. 

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“The then Attorney General of the Northern Cape, Advocate Charl du Plesses, was the chairperson of the committee.  I can’t even remember the other committee members. But what I can recall is that the outcome of the committee and the findings of the committee were never made public. And my recollection is that the outcome of the committee suggested that there’s no evidence supporting that the farm murders at that time were politically motivated. 

“And I think at the time it was a very sensitive and a very emotionally loaded topic. We were fresh coming from 1994 elections, we were a young democracy. And it would have been very controversial, and it would have been contested from the farming community in South Africa if they were finding, suggesting, that farm murders were not politically motivated…that wouldn’t have made any positive contribution.

“And I think that was probably the main reason why…the findings of the committee were never released.”

Weideman also references research that has been conducted by academics on the topic, specifically papers by Professor Rudolf Zinn, Professor Anthony Minnaar, Dr. Willie Clack, all from the University of South Africa (UNISA), as well as Dr. Johan Burger from The Institute for Security Studies (ISS). 

“The important aspect is that even with reference now to a programme that was aired on KykNet, I think on the 13th of August, on farm killings and farm murders, Professor Rudolf Zinn is there on the record for saying that he didn’t find any proof that will substantiate the contention that farm killings per se are politically motivated. 

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“So, the thing is that the remarks that they made in that programme was that the motivation or the motive for people committing farm killings and farm murders is basically motivated by crime, by greed. People commit these crimes to actually rob people of their valuables or firearms and money.”

However, Weideman added: “But then if you look at the (latest) crime statistics…, the unemployment rate in South Africa at the moment is 32.6%. So socio-economic challenges will always contribute to crime, whether you are in a metropolitan area or whether you are maybe on a farm, in a rural community. 

“So one is not saying that it’s not politically motivated. On the one hand, you have to deal with the socioeconomic challenges, where the motivation or the motive is purely greed, but one will also be, in my opinion, completely ignorant if you disregard the political history of crime in general on farms, and in particular, farm attacks…

“…there’s sufficient proof and evidence that in many instances, you know, there’s incidents of crime, but then it goes hand in hand with brutal and barbaric assault, rape, and even murder of people. And it doesn’t relate to the crime itself. So if, for instance, a person is robbed on his farm, then why for five hours following the incident, the main crime itself (being) robbery, why is it that people are subjected to these barbaric assaults and rape and murder?

“I think that there’s evidence suggesting that some of the crimes on the farms can be politically motivated. But in my personal opinion, it definitely needs to be much more in detail researched to come to a conclusion.”

Weideman says Landelike Beveiliging SA (Rural Safety SA) is a non-political organisation – and “we definitely aim to get behind the reasons of crime in the rural communities because that will inform our response, how to address the risk and how to minimise the detrimental consequences to the economy.”

He adds: “But having said that, for us it’s the main focus area and the primary objective is to first of all prevent loss of life and then injury to any person, irrespective of what the motive may be of the perpetrator.”

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