Farm murders increased 74% in the months following five prominent cases in which political leaders stirred up hatred and violence against white farmers, civil rights organisation AfriForum says.
The organisation issued a report on Thursday linking politics, hate speech and an increase in farm murders.
Ernst Roets, deputy CEO of AfriForum, compiled the report, “Kill the farmer: A brief study on the impact of politics and hate speech on the safety of South African farmers”.
It identified five incidents of hate speech. The first was in April 1993 when then ANC Youth League president Peter Mokaba sang “Kill the boer, kill the farmer” at assassinated SACP leader Chris Hani’s memorial rally; in 2010 when another ANC Youth League president, Julius Malema, sang “Shoot the boer” at a University of Johannesburg rally; in January 2012, when President Jacob Zuma sang “Shoot the boer”; former ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola’s war talk in June 2012; and Malema talking about killing white people in November 2016.
It was found that farm murders increased by an average of 74.8% in the months directly after these incidents of hate speech. Roets said the claim that 90% of farm murders were motivated only by robbery was misleading.
“In our study, the number of murders in each month that followed directly upon an incident of hate speech was compared with the average number of murders per month in that specific year. There had always been a sharp rise in murders during the months that followed directly on hate speech.”
He said there were two narratives in the debate on farm murders: one called for farm murders to be a priority and the other argued that farmers were racists who were getting their due.
The difference between the groups was that those who want farm murders prioritised base their arguments on statistics and research, while those who argue that farmers are racist, base their arguments on a few examples.
“We can clearly see that there is an upward curve in murders when violence is instigated against farmers. Political leaders who are guilty must be held accountable,” Roets added.