It's not only whites who are being targeted, says victim.
It’s not only white farmers who are falling victim to attacks and land invasions – black farmers are increasingly being targeted because they have little support.
Land invaders have dealt a fledgeling black fruit farmer a devastating blow, burning down 130 hectares of mango orchards in his 888-hectare farm in Tzaneen, Limpopo. Farmers and landowners have increasingly become under siege from land invaders and farm attacks, with farmers’ organisations disputing the narrative that only white farmers were under attack.
In the past two weeks, Whisky Kgabo, a renowned specialist fruit farmer in Tzaneen, and his workers battled the fire he believes was deliberately started by someone who had invaded his farm.“A man came and built a structure on my farm and stuck poles in the ground demarcating stands for occupation.
I confronted the man and told him to get off my land. That is when the fires started. It was deliberate in that they would wait for us to extinguish the fire on, say, 100 hectares and then the fire would start in another 100 hectares,” he said. According to Kgabo, farm attacks and invasions were not a white farmer’s problem but that all farms were under attack and that black farmwork-ers have not escaped the wrath of the attackers.
He said the perception that only white farmers were under attack was detrimental to the sup-port that black farmers desperately needed to wade off attackers as they were not seen as potential soft targets.“As long as you have a farm or live on a farm, you are not safe, regardless of the colour of your skin.“We have had incidences where farmworkers are attacked and killed in their sleeping quarters,” Kgabo said.
According to Theo de Jager, president of the World Farmers Organisation, black farmers were particularly vulnerable to farm attacks and invasions because of lack of organisational support and financial muscle.“White farmers, because of their organisational structure, made a lot of fuss and were vocal when this thing started. Black farmers are not organised or their organisations are reluctant to tackle these issues,” he said.
De Jager said until black farmers were effectively organised so that they had a voice and were supported financially, they would ultimately be destroyed.
“The law (Extension of Security of Tenure Act) makes it difficult to evict informal dwellers.“In a way, informal dwellers have more rights than the farm owner and this makes it difficult to evict people.
“Where does [Kgabo] get the money to go to court? We have the same problems in the Free State, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal,” he said. In 2018, three black owners of a 120-hectare piece of land in Pretoria had to turn to the Afrikaner civil rights group AfriForum to get rid of land invaders near Soshanguve who had cut up pieces and sold them for R500 a plot.
De Jager added that Kgabo would probably not be able to open a case with the police if he was not a member of the family farmers’ organisation, the Southern African Agriculture Initiative. Kgabo will not be employing the 200 seasonal workers for the November mango harvesting this year because of the damage caused by the fire.
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