Updated: Aug 13, 2020
The farm attacks narrative that is being pushed by the right wing in South Africa today has been built by people using the most extreme and rare outlying cases and pretending that those rare cases are examples of all and most cases. For example there has only ever been one incident of a boy being drowned in boiling water on a smallholding, but now people talk about it as if it's a common occurrence in farm attacks.
One photo of a gang of criminals carrying a jammer in a backpack was found, so now many people think all or most farm attackers are using signal jammers. It fed into the conspiracy that the South African government is arming and planning farm attacks and murders.
^This is the post that went viral.
"And the government says they not involved in Farm attacks so where do the jammers come from?" - Bryan Wilkinson
First let's look at where the photo comes from:
The photo is from 2015. Every year since then this one photo was taken it does the rounds on facebook. A surveillance camera on a farm captured this image of criminals in 2015, a signal jamming device can be seen protruding from the man's backpack in the image. Two things that are important to note in this police letter: 1) It says jamming devices are used in a variety of crimes. Criminals have used signal jammers in car theft for many years in South Africa, as well as cash in transit heists. Here's an example photo of a jammer that was used by a gang that performed cash in transit robberies:
^Photo from "Special Operations Group" security company facebook page. (2018)
2) The letter goes on to read: "The use of these devices at this stage is not very common in rural incidents" This flies in the face of those that say that most farm attackers are using jammers.
Which brings us to the leader of the DA, John Steenhuizen who when talking about farm attacks says criminals are utilizing more Signal Jammers and Night Vision "spectacles" these days:
We tried very hard to find just one instance of farm attackers using Night vision goggles / equipment. We checked news articles and even the white genocide pages on facebook and could not find any instances of Night Vision equipment used by farm attackers. What tweets could Steenhuizen have been reading to lead him to this conclusion?
The idea that the government is behind farm attacks and is arming and supplying the attackers is widespread among the right wing, here is a post from just yesterday (2020/07/27):
^ Willem Petzer openly claims Farm Attacks are terrorist attacks practiced by the ANC. Despite there being no evidence these criminals and robberies are government sponsored.
Katie Hopkins (now de-platformed) also spread conspiracies of direct government involvment as well because police weapons were found to be used by criminals in some cases and there were also a few incidents of off duty policeman and soldiers robbing farms and smallholdings. Police firearms have found their way into the hands of criminals, for example a Colonel Christian Prinsloo was sentenced to 18 years in prison for selling over 2400 guns to criminals. 888 of those guns were recovered and linked to 1066 murders, of which 261 were children. When a handful of soldiers or policeman limelight as robbers off duty, it is not "Government sponsored" and "Government endorsed". An example of it happening overseas as well: In the United Kingdom soldiers from Queen's elite Grenadier Guards were recently jailed for 24 years for robberies. This does not therefore mean the UK government is sponsoring robberies. Criminals will get hold of equipment any way they can by any illegal means such as smuggling. They do not order assault rifles or signal jammers off of Takealot or Ebay.
^All shapes and sizes of gear and pieces. Assault rifles, sub machine guns, signal jammers. People will look at photos of confiscated weapons and will play facebook detective based on war movies they saw and war stories from their friend that served in the war in Angola. For example someone will look at the above image come up with all kinds of stories about who is involved based on a wild guess.
There is also a belief that criminals are only heavily armed and in large gangs when attacking white owned farms. Not true, there was an incident in May 2020 for example, where 6 men, one armed with an AK-47 assault rifle assaulted a home in Merebank in KZN. Criminals in South Africa will use whatever gear or weaponry they need for a robbery whether it's a farm or a house or bank or a church. Wild guesses and accusations are dangerous - people need to allow the police and detectives to conduct their own investigations.