The community safety team of the civil rights organisation AfriForum visited a farm attack victim on 6 November 2018 along with a French radio station, Radio France Internationale (RFI), to talk about farm attacks and land grabs in South Africa.
David Baché from RFI conducted an interview with Ian Cameron, AfriForum’s National Head of Community Safety, and Bernadette Hall. Hall’s husband David was assaulted and shot dead during a farm attack while she was attacked with a panga, among other things.
On another occasion, the community safety team and Reuters, an international media agency, visited Jan Scheepers (79) and his wife Suzie (78) – who were viciously assaulted on their farm outside Koster.
Scheepers told the Reuters journalist how the attackers initially broke off the burglar bars on the living room window. A locked security gate forced the attackers to get access to Scheepers and his wife through a different window. “We are deaf, so we didn’t hear them enter. When we woke up, they were already standing next to me. I was then hit over the head with a piece of iron and that is the last thing I remember.”
“These are strong people, with strong words! We cannot allow them to simply become part of the statistics. It is important that victims tell their stories about farm attacks and emphasise the cruelty thereof. We must get international coverage so that awareness around the gravity of the situation and the reality of farm attacks can sink in with people. This year there have already been about 366 farm attacks and 49 farm murders in South Africa,” says Hillel Coetzer, AfriForum’s Head of Community Safety in the northern region.
When the Reuters journalist asked Jan Scheepers if he had a message for President Ramaphosa, he answered: “Who am I to tell my President what to do? I can only ask him to look after all of us – including white people.” A very emotional Scheepers said that they can only pray that God would protect them and that similar incidents would not happen again in their area. “At least we survived the attack – many other farmers are not as fortunate and are brutally murdered,” says Scheepers.
“The state is neglecting its duties to protect victims. Therefore, alternative solutions must be considered to secure communities in conjunction with the authorities. This is the main reason why AfriForum establishes neighbourhood watches. There are currently 126 active neighbourhood watches nationally, with more than 7 000 patrollers,” concludes Coetzer.
AfriForum encourages communities to become involved with local safety institutions and sharpen the defensibility of communities.