Farm Attacks Research Project

After having done a fair amount of background and basic research in order to draft a study design, I have formally started an in-depth research on the farm attack phenomenon in South Africa on Monday, 31 May 2021.

The study will be conducted by scientific method from a blank page without any preconceived ideas or beliefs about it, and unemotionally and unsentimentally, in order to understand this phenomenon better. When a problem is well understood, it can be dealt with better.

The aim is not to investigate specific cases or to solve cases (i.e. to bring anybody to book), but rather to eventually present a comprehensive report that would propose preventative measures and to highlight and address shortcomings in the criminal justice system, to be addressed and corrected.

By a strict analytical and forensic approach, broadly the objectives are:

To more finely determine categories by looking closely at a large number of cases where an attack (murder or non-fatal attack) has taken place. While there is a general perception of what a “farm murder” or “farm attack” is, it cannot be assumed that all murders or attacks on a farm should fall under the same umbrella. Different motives and modes could be involved. For this reason, by thorough forensic investigation and research, cause-wise, cases will be classified (preliminary, as there may be some overlapping and additions) into the following categories:

  1. Politically driven
  2. Hate driven
  3. Opportunistic acts
  4. Opportunistic acts that due to their excessive nature appear as hate or politically driven acts
  5. Disputes / Revenge
  6. Other (to be determined)

There are other factors that will be taken into account too, but the above will, among others, be informed by the level of planning or execution that is evident. An objective will also be to determine primary and secondary objectives. For example, was the primary objective to steal but in the process and secondary, to kill (if needs be); or primary to kill (and secondary to steal, if possible). (For example, a murder scene where nothing was stolen or where no intention to steal is evident, is particularly revealing.)

The research will primarily focus on:

  1. Distribution / Demographics – where / when / who?
  2. How / Execution – Modus operandi?
  3. If property/goods were stolen, what? (I.e. vehicles, money, weapons)
  4. Discernable trends
  5. Police reaction time
  6. Level of forensic investigation performed (this will get a lot of attention)
  7. Prosecution process – i.e. successful convictions or not?

The research will involve physical and email interviews with at least 100 individuals that were affected by farm attacks. This sample size may increase. Surveys will be conducted in the process and scenes, where possible, will be visited. There will be an effort to have interviews with convicted transgressors in order to gain a better understanding of motives and modes of attack.

There will also be an effort to improve current forensic methods or devise new methods that may help in forensic investigations. I have already devised a method for footprint identification that was used successfully by the State in at least one farm murder case.

While other research may have been done on this matter, an objective will also be to look at existing research, to search for and address gaps in the current body of literature, and where possible, to try and foster synergy between existing research, and also between existing research and my own research.

The veracity and reliability of SAPS’s statistics will also be investigated.

I would therefore like to invite any person that has been affected by a farm attack, of whichever nature, during the last three years – preferably survivors or those that have been present during such an event, to contact me. All communication will be treated confidentially.

I foresee the research to be conducted over a period of approximately 6 months.

Contact: Thomas Mollett – thomas@thomasmollett.com

WhatsApp: 076 635 8048


As a study like this is very time consuming and since a great deal of travelling will be involved (i.e. to visit affected persons and scenes), it is costly. I’m therefore also inviting corporate sponsors and private sponsors to get involved, as it will enable me to do this important and timely research properly. To make a sponsorship contribution of your choosing, contact me at thomas@thomasmollett.com

NB: I need to emphasize that this is fully independent and objective research and it is not done for or on behalf of any other person or party, and there is no agenda other than to conduct proper, in-depth, unemotional, and unsentimental research on this subject matter. Sponsors understand that this is not a politically driven project. Sponsors will be mentioned in the final report (unless they prefer not to be mentioned), which will be made available in the public domain.