Gauteng police have eventually clarified the identity of man initially reported to have been a Krugersdorp farmer who shot an employee using a tractor to travel home for lunch.
Social media users this week claimed a white farmer shot a 43-year-old employee due to racial hatred.
However, the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed to The Citizen on Monday that it was a security officer, who has since appeared in court on charges of murder.
This despite the insistence of Gauteng police that a farmer had been arrested.
Yesterday Gauteng police said in a statement it wished to “confirm the facts in relation to initial reports on the arrest of a 46-yearold man following the fatal shooting of a farmworker”.
The incident occurred on Saturday near Matshelapad informal settlement in the Tarlton policing precinct, West Rand, Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said.
“The 46-year-old suspect, now confirmed as a security officer, appeared in the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court … after he handed himself over to Tarlton police.
“With this matter now before the courts, police are appealing to the community and particularly the media to allow the police space to investigate thoroughly so that, ultimately, justice is served,” Peters said.
“Whatever preliminary information was communicated is now at the centre of the investigation, meaning that the police are not at liberty to offer any comment further on any aspect of this investigation.”
Communities were urged to refrain from taking the law into their own hands and social media users were asked to be responsible by not “posting messages that could fuel any sort of tension and incite violence”.
Agri SA said the inaccurate information had tarnished the image of farmers.
“False reporting on the incident and some poor journalism resulted in farmers’ reputation and public image being tarnished,” Agri SA president Dan Kriek said.
Kriek added that images of the deceased circulating on social media were “unnecessary” and “had a negative effect on the dignity of the victim”. “This, and the false reporting, is unacceptable.”
“The Human Rights Commission, in its 2014 inquiry into security problems in the farming community, found that the good relationship between farmers and farmworkers was not emphasised enough and the suggestions was that negative stereotyping of relationships on farmers should be halted.
“The wrong information around the Tarlton incident does not help to promote relationships within rural communities,” Kriek added. He pointed to references made on social media that “black people were being killed by white farmers”.
“This type of information results in the polarisation of communities and is not conducive to nation-building.
“The police and the media have an enormous responsibility to ensure that crime-related incidents and the identity of the guilty parties are correctly reported,” he said.