Faizel Patel – 12/10/2020
Criminologist Dr Simon Howell says he agrees with President Cyril Ramaphosa that the spate of farm murders in the country are driven primarily over economic concern and not race.
In his weekly newsletter “From the Desk of the President”, Ramaphosa writes that the claim that violent crime on farms is part of an orchestrated campaign by blacks to drive white farmers off their land is simply not borne out by fact.
Ramaphosa says contrary to the irresponsible claims of some lobby groups, killings on farms are not ethnic cleansing, not genocidal but rather are acts of criminality and must be treated as such.
The president’s address to the nation in his newsletter was sparked by the brutal murder of 22-year-old farm manager Brendin Horner, whose body was tied to a post after a brutal assault.
While two suspects were arrested and appeared in the Senekal Magistrates Court, farmers went on the rampage, demanding that the suspects be given to them and then tipping a police van and proceed to torched it.
Radio Islam unpacked the issues that led to the violence in Senekal in the Free State with black farmers representative Mike Mlengana, AfriSA’s Christo van der Heever and criminologist Dr Simon Howell.
Howell says farm murders are pure criminality.
“The correlation between increases in farm attacks and poverty around the areas, they are very difficult to protect as they are very easy targets in rural areas. But certainly not driven by race but purely be economic concern.”
While van der Heever also agreed that there is no evidence of ethnic cleansing, he has urged South Africans not to polarise the issue.
“Black farmers are getting attacked, white farmers get attacked. But we got a bigger problem in this country and we must not allow these kind of incidents to cause us losing sight of the bigger which is South Africa is trapped in a crime cesspool. We’ve got a massive crime problem in this country and yet I appreciate the letter by the president, but I really want to say, Mr President it is now time to start acting.”
Mlengana says as a black farmer, he has also been attacked several times.
He says the police have done nothing to curb farm murders.
“The police have done zero. As we talk right now, we are armed, hundreds of cattle, we close them at night. I agree with Christo that the government must begin to work. Arguably with the government it has to with the fact that there is too much talk and less doing.”
Ramaphosa in his newsletter says it would be naïve to assume that race relations in farming communities have been harmonious since the advent of democracy adding that unless this is addressed in an open and honest manner and we are prepared to engage in dialogue, this will remain a festering wound that threatens social cohesion.
Listen to the interviews with Mike Mlengana, Christo van der Heever and Dr Simon Howell