Pressure is mounting on government amid reports alleging a rise in farm attacks. Constant security fears and high labour costs have brought many farmers to their knees.
SABC News visited Johan van Niekerk on his farm outside Delareyville, in the North West. He was attacked by five men in 2016 and stabbed 39 times.
Van Niekerk says the day of the incident was just like all the others – where he was going about his business. Within seconds, it went horribly awry. He was attacked as he returned home from his early morning chores.
“When I am coming here, I see underneath the light a guy is standing there. While he is standing there, I know immediately there is something wrong because my dogs are not with me. That’s why I asked him ‘what do you want?’ So some two other guys come from the back of a tank and they come from behind and they hit me here on my head with a panga and I fell down on the grass. The two guys, one jumped on my hip and the other one put his knee on my head and they cut my throat three times, that’s why I put my thumb on to the vein and I am just lying down and play dead. While I am lying on the ground, the other three guys are hitting that door, someone is living there and I got up and go into our room. There is the window for my wife and I know she is going to hear me because dogs are making a very big noise.”
His wife Sonia was locked inside the house and managed to come to her husband’s rescue.
“The dogs were with me in the bedroom and they were acting in a different way and I realised it is abnormal the way they react. So I went to this window, I saw two guys, small guys, waiting for me there with knives and when I open the door, they would stab me. And then I went this side, I saw Johan inside here so I left this and I went here and I opened the door and went out. People who attacked us were standing there looking at us and then I found Johan here on the ground so I took Johan, I don’t know how, and I grabbed him. I took him into the house and I put him here on the floor in his office and then I locked the door and he said ‘phone my brother Christo, he must come immediately; I am going to die.”
Van Niekerk miraculously survived, but was hospitalised for six months. He still has difficulty speaking and suffers short-term memory loss.
Attacks such as these have forced farmers to be more security-conscious. Farmer Dewet Marx says he now carries a firearm.
“I have my firearm with me 24/7 and every person that comes to my farm; I regard that person as a suspect.”
Van Niekerk says he has forgiven his attackers, but would like to ask them why would they wanted to take his life.
“They didn’t take my purse, they didn’t take my cell phone nothing; why are they doing that? That’s all I want to know. I see problems with a lot in the future if we can’t solve this problem because we are going to defend ourselves; I am not going out, I am going to shoot. I am sorry, but I want to live.”
In the video below, farm attacks under the spotlight: