SAPS farm murder stats questionable

This past week, in reply to a DA parliamentary question by Dianne Kohler-Barnard, the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, stated that 794 farm attacks occurred during which 86 murders were committed in the 2008/2009 financial year. The Minister said that this figure was reflected on page 69 in the SAPS annual report.

In and of itself, this seems unexceptional, but if one compares it to previous annual reports, something odd emerges.

The year before there were no figures on violence against the farming community contained in the annual report, but low and behold, the year before that the figures were as follows:

Farm attacks: 794 – Farm murders: 86. Exactly the same as the figures given for this past year by the Minister in his parliamentary reply.

This means one of two things, either by some remarkable coincidence, across a county with a population of 40 million, not only were the exact same number of farm attacks carried out over an entire year, but the exact same number of people were murdered. What are the chances? A more likely explanation is that the Police service do not keep proper statistics and simply cut and paste the figures from two years ago as their best guess estimate.

Either way, the Minister needs to explain himself. We will be asking detailed questions about each specific case the Minister says occurred last year and in 06/07 and, if the answer isn’t convincing, we will be taking this matter up with the Speaker to investigate false information being provided to Parliament as well as with the portfolio committee on police.