Daily news update: Farm murders in the spotlight

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The Citizen offers a number of articles today focussed around farm murders. Pictured here is Louis Meintjes, a former President of TLU SA, who stands in the doorway to his bedroom where he was when intruders came into his house during a break in, 15 September 2020, Cullinan. Picture: Jacques Nelles

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.

Louis Meintjes, former President of TLU SA, points out areas where farm attacks and murders have taken place on a map of the Cullinan area, 15 September 2020. Picture: Jacques Nelles

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.

A police vehicle was vandalised outside the Senekal Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, 6 October 2020, during a violent protest by farmers attempting to access the men accused pf murdering a young farmer in the Paul Roux area. Picture: Supplied

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.

EFF leader Julius Malema addresses media at Expo Centre, Nasrec, 21 November 2019 ahead of their December conference. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

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?”

Farmers send a clear message to Police Minister Bheki Cele over the murder of 22-year-old Brendin Horner. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Police Minister Bheki Cele denied he would be so irresponsible as to say farmers should not complain if they get hurt.

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.

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.

Jan van der Bank stands with his rifle infront of his house on a farm in Hammanskraal, 16 September 2020. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Heyman denied his trauma to the point of collapse, four days after the attack, with bleeding on his lungs and prostate.

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.

Source: https://citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/2367267/daily-news-update-farm-murders-in-the-spotlight/

Farm murders

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