Civil society action against the killing of farmers will start today as minority rights movement AfriForum and a number of other organisations will host events around the country, with some calling it Black Monday.
But Police Minister Fikile Mbalula warned protesters to be peaceful and said action would be taken against those who threatened to blockade roads with trucks and tractors.
The movement was sparked by an emotional video circulated by well-known businessperson and farm manager Chris Loubser, in which he pleaded with South Africans to use the day to pay homage to the farmers who have lost their lives.
According to AfriForum, there had been more than 70 fatal attacks on farmers since January. Loubser’s video was in response to a fatal shooting of farm owner Joubert Conradie, who was attacked on his property in the Klapmuts area in Stellenbosch.
People supporting the movement are asked to wear black in solidarity with victims of farm attacks. AfriForum spokesperson Ernst Roets said its members would meet at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria today. He said at least five farmers around the country have died over the past week.
Last week, Mbalula came under fire for not including specific statistics on the number of farmers attacked and killed over the past year when the police portfolio committee was presented with South Africa’s annual national crime statistics.
Freedom Front Plus MP Petrus Groenewald demanded that police provide figures on farm murders, saying the police service had broken its promise to do so last year.
In response, acting national police commissioner Lesetja Mothiba promised his office would prepare a separate report on farm murders and attacks.
In the same week, a farming community took to the streets in northern KwaZulu-Natal, saying farm attacks were robbing people of their livelihoods. This was in response to the murders of Billy van Rooyen and his father-in-law, Ronnie Lombard.
Responding to a recent statement by policing expert Johan Burger, which said his research suggested more black farm workers were killed on average than farmers or farm owners, Roets said that AfriForum would like to see those statistics.
“Our figures say close to 2 000 farmers have been murdered since 1990. We don’t know about this report on farm workers. But the point is it is also a major problem that we have farmers being attacked and often tortured to death.”
He was reluctant to say whether he thought the murders were connected to a conspiracy against white farmers.