PLOUGHING IN RESOURCES: The investigation of farm attacks

  • Duxita Mistry Institute for Security Studies
Keywords: farm attacks, police, South Africa, investigation, tracking unit, criminal justice system


The information contained in this article is drawn primarily from research conducted by the Committee of Inquiry into Farm Attacks. The mandate of this Committee was to investigate the motive for farm attacks. To this end the Committee interviewed investigating officers, victims, offenders and prosecutors. In addition, the agricultural unions, the South African Police Service, non-governmental organisations and the South African National Defence Force made submissions to the Committee. The Committee found that the primary motive for farm attacks was robbery and, more importantly, that the conviction rate was high at 90%. This article therefore examines the investigative techniques used in the investigation of farm attacks and suggests that the little known Tracking Unit is a significant factor in the successes achieved to date. Its past experience in dealing with politically motivated insurgency in rural areas has proven effective in apprehending suspects. However, these techniques have not been effective in reducing the number of attacks. This article explores how farm attack cases have been handled by the criminal justice system.

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