This year we are focusing on South Africa. Violent attacks on Christian minority groups in South Africa, is largely unreported with few atrocities making headline news. We break down the available information and explore the limitations of the data available, to present our report on Genocide Statistics.
Wikipedia: The persecution of Christians in the modern era.
Christians in South Africa can hardly be considered as belonging to a monolithic faith, as there are many distinct groups: for example the Afrikaans-speaking Christians known as the “Boers” or “Afrikaners” who are deeply conservative and typically have a protestant faith tradition. Many of these families are descendants of the French Protestants called Huguenots, who fled from religious persecution and slavery in Europe, only two centuries ago.
The English-speaking Christians, often from British descend and typically having an Anglican or Catholic faith tradition also make up a large portion of Christians. And then there are the African initiates, that typically belong to the largest church in Africa, known as the Zion Christian Church, to name just a few of the biggest faith communities.
Since 1994, when the ANC government came into power in South Africa, the ever increasing persecution of Christians, in the extreme form of rape, torture and murder, was noticed by humanitarian and religious interest groups. It could be argued, that many of these atrocities, involve racism, have ethnic undertones, or perhaps are motivated by factors such as criminality or poverty. However, for the WCSTG Foundation these factors are irrelevant. Our efforts remain dedicated, to secure Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for all Christians. Wherever Christians are oppressed or mistreated, this should be addressed, with swift and effective countermeasures.
Our focus in this report is on Christian Minorities subject to an eminent existential threat in South Africa – not Christianity as a whole.
In this report, large scale oppression, economic discrimination and factors that promote forced displacement of Christian minority groups are not addressed. For example, the complexity of statistical models, that reflect forced emigration, vizavie voluntary emigration, is best addressed by organisations, with sufficient resources to generate such reports. Suffice to state, that we are unaware of an accurate antithesis, that can disprove a general statement such as: Over a million South Africans, have abandoned the country in the past 25 years, citing crime and violence as predominant reasons for fleeing.
In the Genocide Statistics report, we attempt to expand the statistical scope, to include urban attacks and murders, by using metrics that could be indicative of the extend of Christian persecution. We do not limit the report, to the size of property owned by the victim or hinge the data on the victims occupation. All lives matter, whether the persecution and victimization occurs in a rural or urban setting, regardless of whether the victim is a farmer or non-farmer.
One metric, that have received attention in recent years, is that of rural attacks in the agricultural sector. However, since crime is largely under-reported in South Africa, the actual figures may be much higher and the reader is cautioned, about the limitations of our research, given the inaccuracies of the source data. South African Police statistics for example, do not report on attacks on minority or religious groups and so estimates have to be extrapolated, from overall crime figures.
In addition attacks and murders are sometimes reported as farm attacks, by the media, when they do not meet the police’s definition. For example, a crime may take place on a property, where no agriculture activities took place and so will not be included in the statistics released by the government. Further the South African Police did not collect statistics on attacks and murders on farms and smallholdings prior to 1997. Nevertheless the potential for this metric, as an indicator of Christian persecution, deserves further scrutiny and analyses.
The terms “farm attack”, “farm murder” or its equivalent in Afrikaans “plaas aanval” and “plaas moord”, are popularly used to refer to crimes committed in rural areas. The official definition was formally introduced in the South African Police Services’ Rural Safety Strategy:
“Acts of violence against person/s on farms and smallholdings refer to acts aimed at person/s residing on, working on or visiting farms and small holdings, whether with the intent to murder, rape, rob or inflict bodily harm. In addition, all acts of violence against the infrastructure and property in the rural community aimed at disrupting legal farming activities as a commercial concern, whether the motive/s are related to ideology, land disputes, land issues, revenge, grievances, racist concerns or intimidation are included.”
Rural areas are defined as “sparsely populated areas in which people farm or depend on natural resources, including villages and small towns that are dispersed through these areas. (Integrated Rural Development Framework of 1997).
A property needs to be involved in agriculture for an attack or murder to be flagged as an act “of violence against persons on farms and smallholdings”, the police’s Rural Safety Strategy states.
A farm is defined as an “area of land and its buildings used for agricultural and livestock purposes, including cattle posts and rural villages where subsistence farming takes place”. A smallholding is an “agricultural holding that is smaller than a farm”. Smallholdings “where no agricultural activities take place” or those that are “predominantly residential” are excluded from the definition thus further skewing the source data.
Rural Attacks and Murders
While no single organisation, appear to report accurately on crime in rural areas, we can consolidate some of the data presented by government sources and private organisations such as the Rome Research Institute of South Africa, Afriforum and the South African Agricultural Union. In cases where reports have overlapping periods, we compared data points and when discrepancies were found, those are accommodated by applying industry standard smoothing techniques. A composite model for Genocide Statistics can thus be presented as follows:
Urban Attacks and Murders
There exist an extraordinary number of ways, to account for attacks on Christians in Urban areas. We do not purport that our method is the best or only method, but hopefully do present the reader with a sense of scale and observable trends. Using the crime figures provided by the South African Ministry of Safety and Security and demographics widely published, we can collate a potential representation of the current situation. In the graphs below, we used the official statistics for Robbery with Aggravated Circumstances and Homicide as datasets and then factored in the segments, most likely to represent persecuted Christians. While many considerations could be identified that skew the numbers, until evidence to the contrary is presented, we stand by our claim that actual figures, is unlikely to present a more positive view.
Nature of Attacks
One report by the Rome Research Institute of South Africa, could be useful for establishing certain trends about the nature of attacks for our Genocide Statistics report. For example a Time of Day study suggest most attacks occur between 10pm and 5am.
We also learn that victims living by themselves are the most targeted Christians.
Further study show, the attackers normally gang up, to comprise three or more people.
If the attack involves robbery, the most popular items stolen are mobile phones and guns.
The extent of injuries, have also been studied. And the nature of the crimes suggest a vengeful, hatred motif.