“It is as cruel and unexpected as a shark attack” – Victims of farm attacks and farm murders tell their stories

Three victims whose lives have been changed by farm attacks and farm murders, today told their stories to the world in a filmed discussion in Pretoria. They also reacted to the recent statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that there wasn’t something like farm murders in South Africa. 

Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, opened the discussion by saying that it was now important to tell victims’ stories rather than debating incessantly over the statistics.

Dalene Muller, whose husband Johnny was shot through the head, but survived the attack and was also present at today’s discussion, says that it is a miracle that Johnny still lives. “He was shot at very close range,” she tells.

“The farm is our home, our hearth. Johnny is a trained farmer, and to farm is what he does. It is impractical and financially impossible to live anywhere else,” Dalene answers the question why they still live on the farm after the attack.

Claudine van Wyk, whose father Sarel Janse van Rensburg was cruelly killed in a farm attack, and whose uncle and aunt, Johan and Gloudien Janse van Rensburg, were killed 18 months previously, says a farm attack is as cruel and unexpected as a shark attack. “You don’t see it coming,” she says.

Reacting to a question on President Ramaphosa’s claim that farm murders in South Africa do not exist, Van Wyk says that a person would expect your country’s president to protect your interests as a citizen of the country. “It is shocking and upsetting to realise that the person who was chosen to represent us at the highest level is dismissing the reality so blatantly. My family can no longer speak for themselves; they were murdered. I will be their voice in telling the world what is happening here. I will not keep quiet. It is time that the whole truth is told,” Van Wyk says.

Willem Stafleu, whose wife Vanessa Stafleu was killed during a farm attack in front of their 3- and 5-year-old children, says that a traumatic experience like this has a lasting impact on children. “It has been six years, and still there are noises and other triggers that deeply affect my children. They still do not want to sleep in their own rooms, while the fact that the attackers have not yet been arrested makes things worse.

“This is our home where we grew up and we do not want to leave here, but crime in this country is out of control. Moreover, to hear your president denying the existence of farm attacks and farm murders makes you feel that everything is in vain,” Stafleu says.

Roets points out that the prioritisation of farm murders remains one of AfriForum’s principal campaigns. “We have to be realistic; we do not expect the international world to solve our problems on our behalf. We can talk about it, however, and distribute the message on social media that crime, and in this case farm attacks and farm murders, can no longer be ignored,” Roets says.

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