AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
IN violent acts of defiance, fueled by anger over the brutal of a young farmer in Senekal, in the Free State, his colleagues torched a police van, tried to overturn another and forced their way into court where at least two shots were fired.
Failure by the police to act against the farmers has been criticised by South Africans who took to social media to express their anger.
Pandemonium erupted at the Senekal Magistrates Court where two suspects, Sekwetje Isaiah Mahlamba (32) and Sekola Piet Matlaetsa (44), arrested for the murder of Brendin Horner (22), appeared. The case against Mahlamba and Matlaetsa was postponed to October 16.
Horner was murdered and found tied to a pole at Die Rots farm in Paul Roux, a small town near Senekal.
Police said soon after the murder case was postponed, the farmers forced their way into court in an attempt to storm the police cells and avenge the death of Horner.
South Africa’s Minister of Police Bheki Cele condemned the violent protest, which he described as lawlessness, and called on those who violated the law to be arrested.
Cele said there was no logic in the burning of a police vehicle, which was the same resource that is meant to assist the farmers with their own security
Thoko Didiza, the Minister of Agriculture said the government sympathised with farmers and farm workers but emphasised that any form of destruction of property and violence was unacceptable.
Ernst Roets, head of policy and action for civil rights group AfriForum, said the farmers converged on Senekal from all over South Africa in solidarity with the Horner family.
Roets said: “The people, on one hand, expressed solidarity with the family and the community. But there is also a message of anger and frustration with what is happening in this country. Anger about the reality of farm murders but on top of that anger about the fact that the South African government is not reacting to the problem. What we find instead is that the state president goes on an international platform and denies the existence of the problem. And we find the minister of police going on a public platform and stating that this is not something that the government should regard as a priority. That’s why people are so angry with what is happening and it’s important for us to send this message out about the extent of the problem and also the no-care attitude of the South African government one the one side. On the other hand, it is important for us to realise that the solution lies within ourselves. We need to be more organised. We need to form community safety structures or become involved where such structures exist, already. We need to be more vigilant and more organised, as a community, to protect ourselves.”
The South African farming community has been involved in many protests to highlight the lack of security and the high rate of murders in the country’s farms. The demonstrations by farmers have included the blocking of roads in Pretoria and several other towns in the Mpumalanga Province.
The Economic Freedom Front has called on the police to against those who overturned and torched a police vehicle.