For the most part the ones pushing the idea that white farmers are under assault by the black majority is the organization Afriforum. At first other organizations tried to debunk their stats and Afriforum responded with these rebuttals: http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politics/farm-murders-factchecking-the-factcheckers

The East-West divide

This comparison of the murder rate of “white farmers” with the overall murder rate nationally is however inadequate. Overall averages can create a distorted impression if low levels of victimisation in certain areas offset high levels in others, and vice versa. There is in fact a huge difference in the number of farm murders depending on whether you look at the situation in the west or east of the country - two halves of South Africa that have quite distinct histories, populations, and land settlement patterns.

According to recently released SAPS statistics, over the past five years sixty-percent of all farm attacks, and 56 percent of farm murders, occurred in just three provinces: Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and the North West. This is also supported by the following map by AfriForum which plotted where each farm murder they (and TAU SA) recorded occurred in the 2016/17 reporting year. If you draw a line due north up from Port Elizabeth to Mafikeng, you will see that seventy of seventy-four recorded murders occurred east of that line, and all of four to the west of it. This despite the fact that most individually white-owned land (by extent) falls in the western part of the country.

In addition he adds a table called

Murder rate of white farmers by province vs overall provincial murder rates:

An analysis of the provincial murder rate vs. the rate of murders of white farmers by province allows one to control for this geographical effect to some extent. In the three more “westerly” provinces - Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape – along with the Free State, there were eight white farmers killed, according to TAU SA’s count, at a rate of 36 per 100 000, only 0,8 times the overall murder rate (47,3 per 100 000) for this area. By contrast in 2016/17 there were 43 “white farmers” murdered in the five more easterly provinces combined - Gauteng, North West, Limpopo, KZN and Mpumalanga - at a rate of 173 per 100 000. This was 6.2 times the murder rate (28 per 100 000) for this area. The high rate in the east offsets the low rate in the west to bring the average down to 108 per 100 000.

I should note that this organization has fumbled in recent months in regards towards this: http://www.2oceansvibe.com/2018/09/13/what-the-latest-sa-crime-stats-tell-us-about-farm-murders/

The real figure is 46, the South African Police Service (SAPS) told Parliament this week as part of its annual crime statistics release.

The difference between 400 and 46 is so huge that even Afriforum, who have spent the last while lobbying overseas on the plight of white farmers, had to concede

So, what is the truth then? Do any of these stats sound right? If not, why?

  • 4
    This may be a better for for the "skeptics" stack exchange. Others can suggest how it should be presented best for that community.
    – James K
    Commented Dec 23, 2018 at 22:43

3 Answers 3


It is not going to be possible to get an honest answer to this question. I don't know much about AfriForum, but a glance at their webpage is enough to see that they have an agenda which gives them an incentive to claim as high a body count as possible. On the other side, the current Government of South Africa has a problem with anti-white racism sufficiently bad that it is reflected at length in their Wikipedia article. So I wouldn't trust statistics from either side. As for "fact checking" organizations in the US, they tend to have an agenda too, and I wouldn't consider them "neutral", either.

The above is unfortunately a common reality in situations where there is heavy conflict. Honest statistics are hard to come by.

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    -1 What this answer basically says is "We just can't know anything", which is just a bad answer. Additionally, it sets reputable media organizations on the same level as white supremacist organizations regarding trustworthiness, which is laughable.
    – tim
    Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 7:53
  • 1
    If you want to argue that certain media are "trustworthy", that would be an excellent topic for another question. Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 12:03
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    you brought up the topic of trustworthiness (of media organizations). That's your entire answer (apart from the questionable equation of white supremacist organizations to reputable media organizations and the South African government). If you now want to argue that the issue isn't on-topic here, I would suggest to delete your answer. It's more of a (questionable) comment on the other answer anyway.
    – tim
    Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 12:32
  • It's on topic to say, but not on-topic to bring up other examples to prove it in detail. Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 13:25
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    This answer illuminates why the victors write history.
    – David S
    Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 16:01

There is not a lot of disagreement on the actual numbers (with the exception of a wrong number of 400 murders, introduced by Tony Abbott, who likely confused the number of farm attacks with the number of murders).

According to the white nationalist Afriforum itself, the number of murders in 2015/2016 was 49 (based on numbers from the South African Police Service), or 64 (based on numbers from TAU, an Afrikaner farm union which Afriforum calls "the most reliable source of independently-sourced farm attack statistics since 1990."). The numbers are both rather far from the 400 claim.

Africa Check has the same numbers. For 2016/2017 the number of murders was 66, for 2017/2018 it was 47.

What some white nationalist groups falsely try to claim is that a majority of these murders are racially motivated or part of a white genocide.

The numbers themselves already answer the question of a white genocide (see also here or here). Regarding the motives, a 2003 inquiry into farm attacks showed that 2% were political or racially motivated, while 89.3% were motivated by robbery.

  • Hardly genocide then. Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 16:57

AfriForum is frankly an unreliable source and pushes a white nationalist agenda. You shouldn't even be regarding claims they make as worthy of hearing out.

AfriForum's claim to be a civil rights organisation has been questioned in the South African media, and South African and international media often characterize Afriforum as a white nationalist or white supremacist group.


Fact-checkers have widely identified the notion of a "white genocide" in South Africa as a falsehood or myth.

The tweet gives prominence to a false narrative pushed by some right-wing groups in South Africa that there have been numerous seizures of white-owned land and widespread killings of white farmers. Some of those groups have brought their claims to the United States on lobbying trips.
The number of killings of farmers, including farm workers, is at a 20-year low, 47 in the fiscal year 2017-18, according to research published in July by AgriSA, a farmers’ organization in South Africa. That is down from 66 during the fiscal year before. The figures were consistent with a steady decline of violence since a peak in 1998, when 153 were killed.
South Africa recorded 19,016 murder cases from April 2016 to March 2017, according to the South Africa Police Service. The national murder rate last year was 34.1 per 100,000 people, but the number of people living on farms is not fully known, which makes comparisons difficult.

Math: this means that farmers of all races combined only account of 0.35% of all murder victims in South Africa, because 100 * 66 / 19016. South Africa currently has no crime statistic breakdown by both race and farmer status; which casts further doubt on anyone claiming that they possess reliable stats supporting a white farmer genocide.

Does the South African government want to seize land? Yes. Mr. Ramaphosa announced on Aug. 1 that the governing African National Congress (A.N.C.) would move ahead with a proposal to change the country’s Constitution and allow the expropriation of some land without compensation. Land reform is a highly divisive issue in South Africa, where whites own disproportionately more private land than the black majority in both urban and rural areas.


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    You didn't read the question at all apparently and didn't answer it at all. Then you go on to cite fact checkers, which are notoriously biased and unreliable. Then you quote the ANC. There is absolutely nothing you bring to the table with this non answer. How did you even manage to turn this question into a question about white nationalism? Commented Dec 24, 2018 at 21:50
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    @user1721135 The claim in the original post IS a debunked conspiracy theory circulated by a white nationalist organization, which is the organization that the original poster quoted. I didn't turn it into a question about white nationalism. This question IS about a white nationalist conspiracy theory from the beginning. Also, I DID provide true statistics about farm murders in South Africa, so I precisely answered the question. Also, the credibility of NYTimes, WaPo, and the Guardian vastly exceed the credibility of AfriForum.
    – John
    Commented Dec 24, 2018 at 23:05
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    The claim in the OP is, that these farmers are under assault, which depending on how you interpret it is true. What is debunked is that what is happening is genocide. And just because SA is generally very violent, doesn't mean that the farmers, who are not very popular are not specifically targeted. What seals the deal for me are the many stories about rape and torture and I don't get my information from Afriforum or whatever. I don't think it's far fetched to assume that these type of thing happens in SA. The scale is debatable. Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 20:09
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    This answer needs a lot of work. Claiming a source is bad only to use wikipedia to verify the claim is bad. Then use three heavily biased sources all biased in the same manner. The question of genocide was never asked, so why it is being addressed here appears more of a strawman. This answer appears more like an attempt to obfuscate the truth from the OPs original question more than it does to actually provide an answer.
    – David S
    Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 16:00

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