Farm murders surge in South Africa amid pandemic

South Africa has seen a sudden escalation of farm murders recently amid the COVID-19 pandemic, civil rights organisation AfriForum said on Saturday.

The latest murder involved well-known Afrikaans singer Wynand Breedt, who was shot and killed on his farm outside Worcester near Cape Town on Friday evening, said AfriForum.

Police confirmed the murder and said the motive for the killing is unknown at this stage.

High crime levels, especially farm attacks, which leave the farming community vulnerable, have further escalated over the past weeks after relaxation of the COVID-19 lockdown measures.

Dozens of farm attacks have been reported across the country, particularly in the Western Cape province, since the COVID-19 lockdown has been eased from level five to level four on May 1, and then to the current level three on June 1.

“The fact remains that, in most of the cases where inhabitants were killed, little or no assets were taken from the farm, not even food,” said Thomas van Dalen, AfriForum’s head of community safety in the Western Cape province.

“This is, once again, proof that it is a vicious criminal offence, directed against the farming community and not normal crime,” Van Dalen added.

In South Africa, one of the countries that have the highest crime rate in the world, the rise in farm murders has become a focus of attention.

There were 552 farm attacks in 2019 as opposed to 433 in 2018, an increase of 27 percent. Almost 1,000 people were victims of these 552 attacks, the group said.