KwaZulu-Natal achieves 55% conviction rate in farm murders

AfriForum’s community safety spokesperson Jacques Broodryk. Picture: AfriForum.

AfriForum’s community safety spokesperson Jacques Broodryk. Picture: AfriForum.

Published Sep 12, 2023


Durban — AfriForum’s report analysing the arrest and prosecution rate of farm attacks and farm killing incidents reported by the South African Police Service (SAPS) from 2019 to 2022 revealed that KwaZulu-Natal achieved a 55% conviction rate in farm murders.

On Tuesday morning, AfriForum released the report “Rural injustice: The low prosecution rates for farm attacks and murders”, which revealed the reality of the “pathetic” prosecution rate of farm attacks and murders.

AfriForum said out of the 1 402 farm attacks and farm murder incidents recorded by the SAPS in the past four years, convictions had so far been made in 66 cases.

According to the report, for the period under review, according to the SAPS data, there were 153 recorded murder incidents, while in 75 of these incidents, suspects were arrested.

Number of attackers and arrests, and percentage of attackers arrested. Graphic: AfriForum.

The report read that although the Western Cape had the highest arrest rate (67%) of all the provinces, it recorded nine murder incidents, whereas the Eastern Cape recorded 29, with an arrest rate (62%), the second highest. Mpumalanga and Gauteng had the lowest rate of incidents relative to arrests, with 20% and 11%, respectively. The total arrest rate for all the provinces was 49%.

Number of farm murder instances in which arrests were made that resulted in a guilty verdict. Graphic: AfriForum.

The report also showed there were 24 cases that resulted in a guilty verdict. This indicated an overall conviction rate of 32%. Of the 167 suspects arrested, 39 perpetrators were found guilty.

“In relation to the provincial breakdown, only one province, namely KwaZulu-Natal, managed to achieve a conviction rate of over 50%, with a rate of 55%. Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West, as well as the Northern Cape province did not have any murder convictions for the period under review,” the report read.

Murder arrests to convictions timeline. Percentages have been rounded off. Graphic: AfriForum

It also read that 26% of the incidents were resolved within one year, 43% were concluded within a two-year span, and the remaining 30% were finalised within a time frame extending slightly over two years but not exceeding three years.

Additionally, the report read that of the suspects arrested, the majority were South Africans (86%), followed by Lesotho nationals with 8%. The data provided by the SAPS did not indicate the nationality of the perpetrators who were sentenced.

Nationality of arrested suspects and sentenced for murder. Percentages have been rounded off. Graphic: AfriForum.

The data pertaining to sentencing were calculated by analysing the nationality of suspects who were arrested and later sentenced. This was possible since all of the incidents that resulted in sentencing were homogeneous in terms of nationality, meaning there were no diverse groups or gangs in terms of nationality.

“It is evident from the data that 90% of the convicted perpetrators were South African nationals. In total, sentences amounting to at least 628 years in prison, along with six life sentences, were handed down,” the report read.

AfriForum’s community safety spokesperson Jacques Broodryk said: “Weak investigative work, ineffective prosecutions and a clear unwillingness of the government to tackle rural safety and farm attacks, in particular, are probably the reason for these shocking findings.

“The figures reveal a bitter truth, namely that farm attackers not only believe that they can get away with their inexcusable crimes – they know it. That is why it is now more important than ever for farming communities to organise themselves, be trained and set up robust safety networks,” Broodryk said.

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