In today’s edition of your morning news update, The Citizen focusses on farm murders and the debates and stories raging around this complex issue.
While you will still find a selection of our daily news articles at the end of this post, explore the selection of features, articles and opinion pieces. Click on the links below for the full story or visit our home page for the latest news:
Louis Meintjies, a former president of the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU), sat sipping cold coffee on his farm in Cullinan, north of Pretoria, while calmly laying out the safety routine he and his wife Erika follow every night.
Meintjies is significant in his community. He is one of the few plot owners left who refuses to leave.
He has also been a first responder to many attacks in the area. One of his neighbours died in his arms. Meinjties, too, has been attacked. The bullet hole, now covered with paint, still etched in his living room wall
Shots were fired as protesters descended on the Senekal Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday morning to attend the first appearance of the two suspected linked to the death of Brendin Horner.
Protestors attempted to get to the suspects in the court’s holding cells, leading to clashes with police, while the media were also targeted and assaulted by farmers unhappy with their presence.
Over the weekend two suspects, aged 32 and 43 were arrested after the body of the 22-year-old Horner was found in the Paul Roux area last Friday morning.
The slogan “no farmer, no food” is often uttered by those attempting to push the false narrative that only white farmers are capable of working the land commercially, prompting plenty of antagonism in a country where land reform and ownership is an extremely hot, sensitive and complex topic.
In reality though, not all farmers are white, nor are all their workers black; those spending their lives toiling to put food on South Africa’s tables come in all colours of the mythical rainbow nation.
The footage of the farmers storming a court house and attacking police vehicles means they have lost a significant portion of the moral high ground in the eyes of many non-white South Africans who have been on the receiving end of a rubber bullet during violent protests.
This incident will further increase the racial tension in the country and will most certainly not help to take the land debate, nor the farm murder debate forward.
When situations turn volatile there’s always a decision to make as a journalist, whether to stay and cover the violence or get yourself out of harm’s way. Sometimes, however, you’re blindsided and an attack happens before you even realise the danger you are in.
The protest started off rather peacefully, but tempers were palpably high throughout the morning. It started off with more than a thousand protesters consisting of farmers, community members, bikers, and political party representatives gathering outside the court.
When things turned violent, one of the farmers grabbed The Citizen’s journalist’s cellphone from her front jacket pocket and snapped it in half before tossing it on the floor.
The Citizen’s photographer was also assaulted during this time, as the protesters tried to confiscate and damage her camera.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has questioned the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) reaction to the protesters outside the Senekal Magistrate’s Court in the Free State on Tuesday.
Malema said this was white people’s way of dealing with “puppet” President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “clownish” government.
He said: “Whites don’t play; they are dealing with this clownish government of their puppet Cyril Ramaphosa. No single rubber bullet shot. Can you imagine if it was black people?”
Police Minister Bheki Cele denied he would be so irresponsible as to say farmers should not complain if they get hurt.
This after FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald accused him of inciting violence in rural communities.
At the start of a meeting with the Portfolio Committee with Police on Tuesday, Cele said there appeared to be a slight increase in crime in the farming community.
“Most of the people have been arrested, but we would have like to have been better at prevention,” he added.
During the question session, Groenewald took him to task.
The brutal murder of young Free State farm manager Brendin Horner has, understandably, brought tempers to boiling point in the farming community, which finds itself under siege by criminal attackers.
As we report today, the ongoing onslaught against farmers and others in rural communities poses a serious long-term threat not only to the security of the country, but also to our economy.
As the death toll among farmers continues to grow, experts are warning that farming as a career is becoming more dangerous than one in law and order. There is a fear that younger generations will see the profession as far too risky.
Celeste and Heyman Schmulian, who lived on their plot in Cullinan for 22 years, moved to Pretoria after they were attacked in June last year.
They now live in a gated community.
Celeste is still not able to drive on the road where their home stands.
Heyman denied his trauma to the point of collapse, four days after the attack, with bleeding on his lungs and prostate.
Both in their 70s, the attack exacerbated underlying health conditions.
They have been living in the suburbs since October last year and haven’t unpacked yet.
Farmer organisations hope that a partnership with the police at operational level will go a long way to combating the lack of political will to deal with farm attacks.
Lobby group AfriForum, which has been in the forefront of local and international efforts to publicise the killings of farmers, their works and families, is cautiously optimistic after agreements were reached this week during a meeting between police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole, who was accompanied by senior officers, AgriSA and Transvaal Agricultural Union SA in Pretoria.
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