Farm attacks showed how criminality in South Africa was engulfing its citizens, the SA Human Rights Commission said on Thursday.
Since the start of the year, there have been 148 farm attacks, with 33 murders taking place.
“We cannot afford farmers, farm workers, farming communities [to be ] attacked, and their lives are taken at will because this is where we see how the criminality in our country is engulfing us,” commissioner Danny Titus told media and farming sector stakeholders.
“It really is a broad South African experience of crime.”
He was speaking at the commission’s presentation of its “Safety and Security Challenges in Farming Communities” report in Johannesburg.
“We cannot deny there are also racial undertones, overtones, terminology used in these attacks, but we cannot make the finding that this is racially motivated, that this is ideologically driven as we experienced in the early 1990s,” Titus said.
“We really are very clear in terms of the presentations that our criminal justice system is not deterrent enough when it comes to preventing crimes on the farms.”
Farmers were seen as soft targets, with farms “auto-teller machines where they [the criminals] can just go draw money and because of the vulnerability of distance, it really is an easy target”, Titus said.
“We would like to say to the perpetrators that we will have to improve our criminal justice system. A lot is at stake. Criminals feel they are at liberty, with almost gay abandon, to take the lives of other people,” he said.
“We hope Parliament will step up to the plate and not disappoint us in this.”
The SAHRC would forward the report to different government departments and within a year’s time, would like to bring out a statement regarding the status of their recommendations.