Updated: Jul 19
In this article we will examine the claim by the Democratic Alliance that farm attacks are a national emergency and that farm murders should be categorized as hate crimes. We will go through their online "coronacast" special where John Steenhuizen Leader of the Democratic Alliance and Dianne Kohler Barnard (Known as DKB), Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance Rural Safety Workstream. We will pull apart the good the bad and the ugly.
Before we begin let it be noted once again that we have no problem or ill will towards any of the victims of rural crime/farm murders, we have a problem with the narrative that is currently being spun around these crimes. The tragic victims of crimes are all deserving our sympathies - our fight is not with them but with those exploiting them for their own selfish agendas. On the 25th of June 2020 the Democratic Alliance announced their proposal to combat farm attacks. There had just been a general upsurge in murders nationwide since the start of Lockdown level 3. Farm murders and farm attacks appeared frequently in the news and online there was a backlash against the BLM movement reaching south africa, racists and conservatives changed "Black lives matter" to “all lives matter” which evolved into “farmerslivesmatter”,“Boer lives matter” and “whitelivesmatter”. Even before then, talk about the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting deaths was frequently met with "What about the farm murders".
Words like “pandemic” “epidemic” and "national emergency" were being used to describe farm murders. An impression is given that farm murders are higher than ever before. Reaching a fever pitch on social media as well as in the news.
But is this the case? Is the DA's rural crime campaign authentic, well meaning and well researched or is it an opportunistic attempt to woo the right leaning voters in South Africa, following on the back of Helen Zille's controversial tweets about apartheid.
^"What about the farm murders?"
So let's dive right in to the DA's Coronacast special "Should farm attacks be reported as hate crimes". We will place video snippets in this article you can view or you can watch the full hour long video.
^"Attacks through the roof" At around 9 minutes into the video our ears pricked up at the sound of Dianne's word choice, "no one is exempt from these attacks, they have just gone through the roof" she then goes on to say that we had 128,000 commercial farmers at the start of democracy (1994) and that we are now down to around 38,000. Now anybody listening at that moment will think that Dianne has just said that 128,000 farmers have been whittled down to 38,000 from being under attack. From farm murders. A very poor and irresponsible choice of words from DKB that will mislead the audience. Many thousands of farms had failed but not this many due to "Farm attacks". We found an explanation in an article by Dirk de Vos for Daily Maverick. "Farming units fell from 66, 000 in 1990 to around 35,000 (2016 figure), a decline of over 1,800 units per annum for the period. On absolute numbers, white owned farms have been “failing” at a higher rate than new black farmers have been" - This was due to large scale, corporate and highly capitalised farming operations becoming more dominant. A trend that is not unique to South Africa. "By one estimate, just 237 commercial farm units accounted for 33% of total agricultural income in 2007 and 2,330 farm units accounted for 53% of gross agricultural income in 2005". Dianne Kohler Barnard, as Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance Rural Safety Workstream, she should know this fact and not give viewers the wrong impression as she did?
^"Nearly 5,500 attacks since democracy" DKB goes on to list the amount of attacks and murders since 1990 (We are writing this in 2020) a period of 30 years. "Nearly 5,500 attacks" that's a huge number but not as large when we acknowledge it is over a period of three decades. "And well over 2000 murders", What does "well over" mean? One gets the impression it could be 2500, maybe 2700? The real number is slightly over 2000. From 1990 - 2020 (May) there were 2067 farm murders recorded by the T.A.U . That's 2067 in 30 years. It's important to place farm murders within the greater context of South Africa and it's violent crime problem. In the 2018/19 financial year 2271 woman were murdered and in the Western Cape alone 3974 people were murdered over that 12 month period.
^Stats from Western Cape Crime Report 2018/19 Department of Community Safety and SAPS Crime Situation In Republic of South Africa 2018/19 Presentation.
For a long time we've seen people call farm murders "hate crimes". Just as farm murders are named by racists as "ethnic cleansings" or "white genocide". It's viewed as hate crimes because it's "Black on White" and "fueled by hatred". We fetched a couple of examples from years before to illustrate: 2014:
A hate crime is a hate crime whether it happens on a farm or on a beach or in the city or on a bus. If a murder fits the definition of a hate crime it will be dealt with as such, but most farm attacks do not fit this definition. Here's an example to show that hate crimes committed on farms and have been acknowledged as such in the past:
Victor Mlotshwa was forced into a coffin by two farm workers, Theo Jackson and Willem Oosthuizen‚ who were heard threatening to put a snake inside the coffin and set it alight. They filmed the whole incident themselves. It shook the entire nation to it's core. Then there are people who say farm murders are hate crimes because of the brutality and torture. People believe the brutality and torture takes place in most farm attacks and is unique to farm murders. These beliefs are based on misconceptions surrounding the frequency of torture in farm attacks. Examples of the many misconceptions floating around : A)
Do most farm attacks contain torture? No. 96% of farm attacks in 2019 didn't contain torture (Afriforum). B)
Do farm attacks contain brutality unique to farm attacks, not seen in other crimes? No. Some farm attacks do contain extra-lethal violence and some one off cases such as the boy who was drowned in boiling water were extreme, but these outlying cases are not the average farm attack or the norm. We've found examples of the same level of brutality dealt by criminals to non-white South Africans in non-rural areas. Notice how Franna in the screenshot mentions rare once off events as if it is the norm. Honestly, how many cases of pliers used to torture eyelids can one find out there? Black people have been tortured with irons and boiling water by criminals all the same as white farmers.
The second important part of the DA's campaign is to report and prosecute posts that glorify the torture and killing of farmers on social media. Here are some examples of posts the DA will be reporting:
We think that all incitement to violence against any race should be sternly dealt with. We see farming as a noble profession that should be treated with respect. There was something that irked us about the hate speech examples that Dianne had collected, none of it was from members of the groups and pages against farm murders that we monitor. DKB is tackling the problem of: why people are disrespecting the plight of farmers - and should therefore not be turning a blind eye to some of the causes of these utterances. Example, farm murders activist Helgard Muller:
Pictured is Helgard Muller, who regularly posts in the "Stop Farm Murders/Attacks movement" facebook Group (Dianne Kohler Barnard is a member here too). He is an Afrikaner living in Oregon in the United States who has appeared in our Mainstream media in 2018 when he made a march to the white house to bring an end to farm murders and "white genocide".
He was recently trending again when people saw his Facebook post about Zindzi Mandela's passing away (and the resulting comments from his followers).
This triggered a backlash on social media as he baited black South Africans into responding:
This black person's anger is overflowing clearly due to the sick racism witnessed on Helgard's page. A perfect example where black people are reacting to what is said by the other side. Racists are giving farmers and white people a bad name and causing racial tension. Now by Dianne Kohler Barnard's definition of hate speech, this black person on twitter would be reported for hate speech as well for reacting to Helgard. Groups centered around farm murders are not found to be friendly places for black people. So as we really like to drive a point home, we will be using a "farm murders" page that Dianne Kohler Barnard herself follows on facebook as an example:
There is a massive community facebook page called "Stop Farm Attacks & Murders in South Africa". It is followed by 97,344 people - which DKB also follows.
This massive group is a reflection of the beliefs of the "white genocide crowd" in South Africa that inject conspiracies into the problem of rural crime and stop people from taking farm murders seriously. Yes you read the banner right:"white lives matter", "Genocide", "on the brink of extinction" and yes there is a post mocking the president at the bottom. Now when we say DKB follows this page, some will say we are lying, some say we photoshopped the image where it appears under her likes, some will say she just"monitors it for research". So let us show you times where she actually shared posts from this community not once, but multiple times:
Wow. We can literally write a whole article on the image choice the facebook page used with that caption but we still have many points to cover here and thus need to crack on.
Above is a share of the page from DKB as recent as the 4th of July this year. There is no way she is blissfully unaware of the posts that circulate on that page. The community page posts things such as:
Posts praising apartheid (January this year). ^
Posts undermining the tragic death of George Floyd. ^
More pro apartheid and white genocide posts (10 Feb 2020) ^ Seeing the kind of problematic facebook pages DKB follows sheds light on her further answers in the "coronacast" video with Steenhuizen.
^ "Nothing is stolen" DKB says something we see quite often from right wingers on Twitter, the claim that white farmers are mostly brutalised or tortured and nothing is stolen in the process. This leads one to believe that the motive is not robbery but a political one, a hatred for white people. Example:
Let's look at some of the the farm murders in 2020, and see if nothing is ever stolen. In the murder of Jacobus Casparus Lambrecht on 15th June several firearms and a vehicle were stolen. In the murder of Edwin Kotze on the 20th of June the shooters fled with various stolen items and a VW Amarok bakkie. When a farmworker was killed in Dewagensdrift on the 30th of June a truck was stolen. When cattle farmer Collin Leslie Brits was shot in KZN in March his rifle and handgun were stolen. When a farmer was murdered in the Henderson area between Cathcart and Stutterheim in March his Land Rover was taken. When an 84-year old woman was strangled to death in February on her Fochville farm in Gauteng by her own tenants they took her cell phone, wallet and appliances. In February a farmer was killed in Rosetta, near Mooi River in KZN. The gang made off with two television sets, a safe and the victim's car. Also in February an elderly male victim (73) was stabbed to death on a farm. The attackers fled with a TV and phones. There are also many more incidences of robbery among attacks where murder did not take place that happened this year. Hence we can't always say that "nothing is stolen".
^ "They could take your grandmother's Jewellery" Part of this campaign is the DA reaffirming their commitment to fight Expropriation Without Compensation "at every turn". We must remember that the white genocide crowd and right wing sees E.W.C as a license to kill farmers and grab farms Zimbabwe style. It is falsely linked to EWC even though farm murders were around decades before EWC was announced. Example:
Despite these claims, President Ramaphosa has stressed that there will be no state-sanctioned land grabs. “The ANC has been clear that its land reform program should not undermine future investment in the economy or damage agricultural production and food security,” Ramaphosa said.
The government has also explicitly stated that it would take action against anyone who breaks the country’s laws. Speaking to the Mail & Guardian, US ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks stated with regards to EWC: “I am 100% satisfied in the way in which President [Cyril] Ramaphosa is handling everything — in a totally open and transparent manner. I am totally satisfied." “I have personally advised all partners regarding this in the United States. There will be no confiscation whatsoever of private land … So now, having said that there will be no confiscation of any private land whatsoever, now is the time for major US investment in South Africa.” Does this not make DKB's talk of the ANC taking your grandmother's jewellery seem irresponsible if not juvenile.
^ "Each farm feeds about 1500 of us" (This saying was coined by Afriforum) To motivate the case for farm murders to be prioritized we are told by Steenhuizen about food security and farmers feeding the nation. We are in agreement that vulnerable commercial farmers in deep rural areas need to be protected from criminals - however we must be careful of the haphazard interchange of terms and definitions that is routinely being done when talking about "farm murders".
In the above image Julian Stobbs is being called a farmer by Kallie Kriel (CEO of Afriforum), in reality the man lived on a plot and was not involved in agriculture. Singers, doctors and even ex-Springboks who live on plots are all routinely added to the tally when they become victims of "farm attacks". This tells us the population affected by robberies on farms is not only food producing commercial farmers but anyone who lives on a farm or smallholding regardless if they are involved in agriculture or not (By Afriforum's demonstrated definition). South African statutory or common law does not define a so-called ‘farm murder’ and ‘farm attack’ as a specific crime category. This semantic confusion surrounding the militaristic sounding term of "farm attacks" has allowed space for the racialising and politicizing of the subject.
Most are working off of the adopted definition (above) developed by the Crime Information Analysis Center (CIAC) of the SAPS to refer to a number of different crimes committed against persons, specifically on farms or smallholdings aimed at disrupting farming activities. This definition effectively excludes acts of violence perpetrated by owners, employers and persons in charge of farms on workers and farm dwellers, on the grounds that they are known to one another. Therefore this definition of "farm murders" excludes cases of assault or murder of black people on the same farms, sometimes perpetrated by farm managers, owners, security, farm watch patrollers or private security companies.
With the tunnel vision and intense focus on farm murders of white farmers the inconvenient reality of farm worker abuse is swept under the carpet. Abuse and murder of farmworkers was something not addressed in the hour long coronacast discussion by DKB and Steenhuizen. Surely the well-being of farm workers is a crucial part of food security in our land?
Cases that are rarely reported for fear of dismissal or intimidation and even eviction of ones family. Low wages and long working hours - a precarious economic existence where one cannot contemplate losing your job or being evicted. In the South African Human Rights Committee's 2008 Farming Inquiry report, the SAHRC noted that: "there was a perception that farm attacks are perpetrated against white farm owners only and recommended that the term “farm attacks” be removed from the Rural Protection Plan which should rather address all forms of crime in farming communities. "
DKB then talks about the dissolving of the Commandos system by former President Mbeki and speaks about it as if it was done on a whim. She does not once acknowledged that certain Commandos had been associated with serious human rights abuses.
DKB talks about this system as if it was a cure-all for South Africa's rural crime problems. In reality it had positives and negatives. Different rural security requirements around the country saw farmers employing varying strategies that worked for them where the police or commandos could not cope or meet their rural protection needs. In 2005 the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published a report that looked at the implications of the closure of the Commandos. The report on the Commandos concluded that “their contribution to rural safety is far more limited than their supporters allow, but far more valuable than their detractors are prepared to acknowledge."
This is a far more mature answer than what DKB purports in the coronacast video. If a system anywhere close to the Commando system is re-created, people must look at why the last one was disbanded and what can be improved upon. This is the new South Africa - abuses of power and human rights violations by such security forces will not be tolerated today.
DKB goes on to claim that President Ramaphosa acts as if farmers don't exist. Something we'd expect the likes of Katie Hopkins to say. This is a dogwhistle to the right wingers belief that Ramaphosa denies farm murders exist - something that has been debunked before.
Dianne Kohler Barnard then makes the claim that farmers have received "not one rand" in Covid relief aid. That's quite a wild claim, can she back it up? Considering the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development’s (DALRRD) has a R1.2 billion covid-19 relief fund.
Towards the end of her segment, DKB warns of SAPS members becoming arrogant, and their treatment of citizens during this lockdown. We were foolishly expecting to hear DKB talk about Adane Emmanuel or Petrus Miggels and the many other senseless killings by police under lockdown. Instead DKB mentions the most horrendous act of police aggression white South Africa had ever seen under democracy (sarcasm):
We actually should not be surprised by DKB. She's been hauled before the equality court multiple times. Now after seeing what pages she follows online and interacts with we can understand why we saw that infamous "come back PW Botha" share in 2015.
One would think a politician would stay 100 feet away from racists and problematic figures. Take this dreadful post by a rape apologist for instance, an assault on women’s right to exist without being blamed for rape culture:
He's also a member of the facebook group that is planning a march on Mandela day against farm attacks. Dianne Kohler Barnard should know better than to share posts from this individual no matter what he is saying:
Farmers such as the person Interviewed on the coronacast show deserve better than this. Alison Oates was the victim of a brutal farm attack and suffers from the massive problem of her livestock being stolen regularly.
^Alison Oates, a Free State farmer and DA Councillor As we said in the beginning of this article we have no problem with the victims of farm attacks. Alison is deserving of our sympathies for what she went through and we hope she sees justice done with regards to her case. The slowness of justice departments regarding her case reminded us of:
There was a farmworker named Hilton Levendal who died before seeing justice done with regards to his employer driving a tractor through his home. Farmworker Hilton Levendal and Alison both deserve better. They deserve better than politicians who can't even get the numbers right:
DKB seems to think there are 52 farm murders a day. (False). They deserve better than politicians who will associate with racists and problematic individuals to further their agendas:
^Go here to this Link, and grab screenshots of your own before she leaves the group and denies she was there. The wording used in the banner is very interesting, it reads "terrorist attacks" instead of "criminal attacks". Right wingers believe that the ANC government is behind farm attacks and they were regarded as "terrorists" during the days of apartheid. The organizer of the march against "Terrorists" on the 18th of July and owner of the group is Debbie Els, who is a firm believer that there is a "white genocide" happening in South Africa. We are hoping people can generate better informed discussions around rural crime that are not from politicians looking for votes or organizations looking for membership donations. All rural residents, whether farm workers, farm owners, small-town residents or those living on communal (tribal) lands, are equally entitled to the protection from all forms of crime. Government and criminologists have by not speaking up with the plain truth regarding "farm murders", have left a vacuum that has been filled by grifters who have now dominated the public discussion surrounding this. This has to come to an end. Please share this write-up with friends, colleagues and whoever can help this message reach a wider audience. Thank you. The Busting Team. Last note: According to Afriforum's own stats there were more farm attacks and murders last year over the same period as our current year:
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