There have been 1734 farm murders since 1990, the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) said on Tuesday.
TAU SA general manager Chris van Zyl said this was according to the union’s own investigations which were based on fellow farmers, media reports and reported cases.
He was speaking in Johannesburg at the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) hearings on farm murders.
“I’m the first to admit that we got no information on this from officials.”
He said based on their own research, the Free State had replaced Limpopo as being the highest priority province.
He said most victims had acted in good faith before meeting their untimely death.
“They heard the dog barking late at night, opened the door and checked who’s there.”
Van Zyl said in most cases the farmers knew the perpetrators.
Accusations of farmers being racist also contributed to the attacks, he said. In his data, most of the victims where white and the perpetrators were black.
Van Zyl said in some cases, the crimes were not about committing robbery but about being brutal.
He used an example of a family who had gone to a church on a Sunday morning. “They waited for the victims inside that house. They had plenty time to take what they wanted and leave.”
Instead they murdered them in a brutal manner, he said.
He told the SAHRC that he disagreed that farmers often opted to use private security services as most farmers could not afford it.
“Average farmers can’t afford private security services.”
He recommended that President Jacob Zuma and his cabinet condemn farm attacks.
“I am worried that isolated groups may still consider farmers sitting targets.”
He said the original intention of the rural safety plan needed to be revisited because its spectrum was too wide.
Van Zyl also called for increased visibility of crime prevention authorities.
The hearings are chaired by commissioner Danny Titus.
According to AfriForum, 91 attacks on farms and 42 murders on farms have been reported in South Africa since January.