- Posted February 8, 2013 by
Farming is a dangerous business in South Africa. Living on isolated properties, farm owners, farmworkers and their families are prey to roving gangs armed with guns, knives and machetes – and very little conscience. Over the last 10 years, more than a thousand farmers and farmworkers have been brutally killed. The mayhem continues, with devastating results.Sean Christie spent two years researching farm murders. He spoke to victims and witnesses – farmers whose wives were killed for nothing more than a cellphone, the son of an elderly farmworker whose throat was slit by marauders, a woman farmer who refuses to leave despite four attacks and a shotgun blast to the face. As he investigates, Christie learns that the situation is far more complex than newspaper headlines suggest.At the centre of this story is Brian Jones, a former Durban policeman whose life changed when his closest colleague was murdered. Jones spends his days on a chicken farm near Ladysmith, running a community action network and ready to spring into action to help survivors of farm attacks. There is plenty of work for him. One can tell by simply looking at the White Crosses Monument, where thousands of small white crosses form one enormous cross on a hillside under the word “Plaasmoord”: farm murder.