Book reviews

Kill the Boer review: We cannot be sensitive to the facts

When the most dangerous occupation in South Africa is not that of a member of the police or a fireman, you should realise that something is wrong. When the most dangerous occupation is that of a person who promotes food security and creates jobs, you should know that something is wrong. The sad truth should enjoy intensive discussion and considered a priority anywhere in the world. However, this is not the case in South Africa. Here, the government is complicit to farm murders.

Ernst Roets’s book Kill the Boer was recently launched on a cold winter’s morning. It was a striking launch, with the singer Adam Tas singing a few songs about farmers and the farming industry in between. The morning of the launch saw reports on an 86-year-old farmer from Hartbeespoort who had been attacked on his farm the day before. He was dragged to the room in which his wife was sleeping and hit over the head with a knobkierie. Mercifully, Allan Fanner survived. Many other farmers did not. Even before the book was published, a report appeared in which the factualness of the content was challenged, while the book was branded racist. The fact that none of the critics could even wait to read the book is indicative of the sensitive nerve that it touched.

Kill the Boer does not mince words and baldly tells how cruel farm murders are and why these cannot be regarded as ordinary crimes. It investigates the loaded statements by politicians and how these may result in an increase in farm attacks and murders. In one section Roets mentions that Julius Malema answered under cross examination that they had stopped singing “Kill the Boer, kill the farmer” in the ANC because black farmers might have been depicted as targets erroneously. Therefore, Malema had rather started singing “Dubula iBhunu” (kill the Boer).

The book also points out the mainstream media’s double standards in terms of its reporting on farm murders and reference to race. One statistic shows that a publication like the Daily Sun uses graphics in 69% of the reports covering white-on-black crimes, but in only 21% of reports on black-on-white crimes. A publication like the Huffington Post SA does not even use graphics in case of black-on-white crimes.

The book is more than simply figures and statistics, however.

It is the story of Sue Howarth, who was murdered when attackers opened fire on her and her husband while they were sleeping. It is the story of Roger and Christine Solik, where the judge said during his sentencing that a “great measure of rage and venom” had been evident at the crime scene. It is the story of 66-year-old Dries Steenkamp who was shot dead on his farm outside Lydenburg in Mpumalanga, and the story of Vanessa Stafleu, whose 3- and 5-yeard-old children ran into the darkness after their mother had been murdered right in front of them. It is the story of Johan Strydom, whose skull was cracked with a piece of metal, after which he was dragged behind his bakkie on a dirt road until he died of a burst liver. It is the story of a mother who lost the will to live after her 21-year-old son, Kyle Stols, was murdered on a farm close to Bloemfontein. And it is the story of Attie Potgieter, who was stabbed 151 times with a panga, garden fork and a knife, after which his wife and two-year-old little daughter Wilmien were murdered.

It is pointed out on the cover of the book that the content is not for sensitive readers.

The fact is that no South African can afford not to read the book. The facts contained in the book is essential for any person who wants to deliver a constructive input in the debate on farm murders and farm attacks. It empowers the readers with knowledge of immeasurable value when being asked why farm murders are different to other murders and why the South African government is complicit to it.

The content is graphic, but we no longer have the luxury to be sensitive about the facts.

By James Kemp

Maroela Media

Book on farm murders “to shake awake”

The new book Kill the Boer is an important contribution to the debate on farm murders and attacks, writes a crime expert.

This was especially true in a time in which farm murders and attacks had become an uncomfortable, thorny and political topic of discussion, said former police officer Dr Johan Burger, consultant at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) at the media launch of the book by Mr Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO of AfriForum.

“The book will hopefully contribute to the debate and will wake some of us up who are still completely ignorant as to the seriousness of the situation,” said Burger.

It was irrelevant to him whether or not one agreed with all the viewpoints and conclusions in the book. What was important, was that the book contributed to the debate.

Dr Theo de Jager, Chairperson of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), said at the launch that Roets tackled the topic of farm murders in a comprehensive manner.

“He writes about the facts and figures, as well as the fears, anger and worries that have become part of the DNA of the farming community,” De Jager said.

According to De Jager, the book would undoubtedly be contentious and would provoke criticism and surely more debate locally as well as internationally.

De Jager said that if you had visited the scene of such an attack, with the signs of torture, you would lose your appetite for theoretical debates on the relevance of statistics and figures.

According to him, no-one could deny that farm murders in South Africa were characterised by extraordinary cruelty and torture.

De Jager said that Roets succeeded in showing why farm murders justified special attention, measures and steps.


“It is no solution to take matters into your own hands. Neither farmers, nor the police or any other security force can end farm murders on their own. A partnership – in the truest sense of the word – between the public and private sector is necessary.”

He was a proud member of the close partnership between Agri Limpopo, TAU North, Afasa and the police in Limpopo, that had not only prevented a number of farm attacks, but had led to one of the highest success rates with arrests and prosecution of trespassers in recent years.

“It works,” he said.

De Jager hoped that criticism on Roets’s book would be delivered with verifiable facts and logic arguments, in the same manner that the book had been written.

Roets said that he gave reasons in the first part of the book why farm murders are unique, should not be regarded as common crimes and should be regarded as priority crimes.

In the second part he gave ten reasons why government was complicit in these attacks.

Kill the Boer is published by Kraal Publishers and available in book stores.

Carien Kruger