Preventing Violent Attacks

Consider and follow these useful hints as provided by the SA Police Service to create a safer living environment at the house and on the property:

  1. Farmers who are targeted by criminals in several cases are old aged senior citizens who stay alone on their farms.
  2. Regular testing of telephones, sirens and alarm systems are recommended.
  3. Stand by your rights as owner of the farm.
  4. Strangers entering the farm or visiting labourers should first obtain permission.
  5. There should be fences and signs warning against trespassing on the farm or smallholding. From a criminological point of view, they are very important.
  6. Farm roads and gates where ambushes may take place should be made safe, e.g. by clearing the bush or putting in a cattle grid.
  7. There should be a security fence around the homestead, and the gate should be kept locked.
  8. Erecting a fence, rather than a wall, around the farmhouse ensures better visibility.
  9. A good watchdog is most important, especially if it is properly trained.
  10. There should be security lights on the outside of the building and in the yard.
  11. All the windows should have burglar proofing and not only the opening windows.
  12. There should be a security gate at the door, as well as at the sleeping quarters inside the house so that the occupants are not surprised.
  13. A proper alarm system is essential. It should preferably be a monitored system so that assistance can be called for.
  14. Personal protection should also be considered. Potential victims can be trained in self-defence techniques.
  15. It is essential that, if reliance is placed on firearms, the users thereof should be professionally trained. The legal aspects of shooting somebody should also be considered. Firearms must always be readily accessible and where possible must be carried. Ensure that weapons are always serviceable and that the handler is qualified to use the weapon. Shooting exercises regularly held on the farm could serve as a deterrent.
  16. Alertness is free but of all safety measures probably the most important.
  17. Special attention should be given to arriving and leaving the farm.
  18. Farm residents should also cultivate safety habits, e.g. watching out for strangers and exercising care when answering a knock at the door.
  19. Mental preparedness is an especially important aspect of personal safety, and it is something for which potential victims can be trained. There is no doubt that the inability of victims to handle farm attacks correctly, is one of the major reasons for the high injury and fatality figures.

Where certain factors are present, the risk of a farm attack increases dramatically:

    1. Elderly people are more vulnerable. They are frail and not as alert as they should be.
    2. Solitary residents are favourite targets of farm attackers.
    3. A stall or shop on the farm or smallholding is likely to attract robbers.
    4. Large amounts of money and valuables should not be kept on the farm.
    5. Once a farm is attacked, it may happen again, especially if the attack was successful.
    6. Proximity to major roads, railway lines and areas are known for its criminals is a danger sign.
    7. Lack of some communication system other than a land telephone line, is dangerous.
    8. Battle indicators and other signs that the farm is being observed by would-be attackers, should be taken seriously like cigarette butts, footprints, or burnt-out fires.
    9. Bad relationships with farmworkers and other residents on the farm are dangerous.

No farmer can introduce all the suggested security measures. It would both be too expensive and make daily life intolerable. Some measures are relatively cheap or may cost nothing at all, however, farmers should do what is affordable and reasonable under the circumstances.

  1. Liaise with the local police station or agricultural union on what the law allows you to do and how you must apply this on your farm.
  2. Good relations with farmworkers are important. Include farmworkers to be pro-active by organising workers in a farm watch system. The security forces could help to train them.
  3. Encourage all workers to be alert on security matters and to report on all crime. Remunerate workers for useful hints and information.
  4. Farmers should keep copies of workers' identity documents, as well as photographs and fingerprints, the local Police station can also assist with this.
  5. Keys should be carefully controlled to prevent their duplication. Remove the keys from all vehicles when not in use.
  6. Farmers should vary their daily routine. Make a habit of not going to sleep immediately after switching off the lights at night. Remain awake for a while. Don't sleep in a spot where you are visible from the outside.
  7. Know your station commanders and Police station numbers as your speed dial.
  8. In case of an attack: "Think, do not panic. Control is your first line of defence. Make as much noise as possible".

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