The international community has learned with shock of the 1 750 farm murders that occurred across South Africa since 1994.
Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, and Lorraine Claasen, Researcher and Criminologist at the civil rights organisation, recently attended the 15th International Symposium of the World Society of Victimology in Perth, Australia with the aim to inform the international community about the extent and severity of farm murders in the country.
Claasen said they wanted to ask the international community to help put pressure on the South African Government to take real action against these brutal crimes.
About 300 international symposium attendees, including doctors, students, researchers and social scientists, attend the meeting that lasts until Thursday.
Claasen said there were many questions and responses from the audience after her presentation. “In general, delegates were very shocked by the level of violence in the attacks. They were of the opinion that what we described was not robbery. They also wanted to know what kind of support is available to victims and whether the victims are willing to go for counselling. There were also many questions about the Government’s actions against farm murders.”
According to Claasen, it was clear that many delegates have been unaware of the scope of farm attacks and murders despite reports published in the Australian media.
At the conference, Roets and Claasen came into contact with South Africans who moved to Australia because they were no longer prepared to raise their children in such a violent country. On Wednesday they also met a group of South Africans and discussed, among other things, farm attacks and the internationalisation of the issue.
The focus of the conference also fell on the rights of victims and the assistance they receive from their respective governments. Great emphasis was also placed on the responsibility of governments to help citizens who are victims.
Claasen said the manner in which victims are treated, has to change and unfair blame being placed on them must be dispelled. “Victims want to be heard. They want to tell their version of events. It is critical that their versions, depositions and the impact attacks had on them during court proceedings, get attention,” added Claasen.
“The international community has also learned that, in addition to the severe trauma, farm attacks pose a serious threat to food security and jobs. Although robbery often is proposed as motive for the attacks, the brutality, torture and severe assault accompanying those attacks are indicative of a level of hatred that is not justified or acceptable,” Claasen said in her presentation.