On the same day that a Democratic Alliance-requested debate in Parliament took place to discuss #FarmAttacks in South Africa, several African National Congress leaders have broken the usual party silence about the issue, with the KwaZulu-Natal Premier saying that everything should be done to catch the perpetrators of the most recent attack, this weekend in Newcastle.
Other parties like the Freedom Front Plus and the ACDP also added their voices to the call for action.
The Debate of National Importance was introduced by DA’s Shadow Minister of State Security, Dianne Kohler Barnard, who said the party had been raising the issue of farm attacks for two decades, although it was the horrific escalation the country saw during lockdown that made the party draw a line in the sand. There have been 21 murders and 147 attacks in the past four months alone.
She said that despite a court ruling in 2011 outlawing the song about killing the boer as hate speech, there were still those who did so with impunity by some in the country trying to fuel hatred. And this despite the agricultural sector being one of engines of the local economy, employing hundreds of thousands of people.
Kohler Barnard spoke of the most recent attack, where Glen and Vida Rafferty were shot dead as they arrived home in Normandien, near Newcastle, on Saturday night. This happened on the same day that thousands of bikers around the country rode in solidarity against #FarmAttacks.
She also spoke about the people on social media who, “sickeningly”, spoke positively of the killings, and she said those people had been reported by the DA to the SA Human Rights Commission.
Also today, the KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala, following on a statement he made yesterday and one by Deputy President David Mabuza, called on the police to act swiftly to catch the killers of the Raffertys.
“Farm killings remain a serious concern in the province. We condemn this murder of the farming couple in the strongest terms possible.
“The ongoing killing of farmers goes against the spirit of Ubuntu. It is an indictment on the significant contribution made by the farming community in the upliftment of our rural people,” Zikalala said.
He also called on people in the province to stand up against the killing of farmers and to protect farmers from criminal elements.
Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza was also quoted in the media yesterday condemning the attacks. She also called on the police to leave no stone unturned to find the perpetrators.
She called on all stakeholders involved in the government’s rural safety strategy to double their efforts to ensure the safety of farmers and farmworkers.
Kohler Barnard, nevertheless, had harsh words for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who said in America there were no farm murders.
“It was a massive slap in the face of our farmers when the current President denied that these murders were taking place. On 26 September 2018 he spoke in New York, saying that there were ‘no killings of farmers…in South Africa.’ Yet in 2017 and 2018 combined there were 136 murders on farms.
“Farmers (black and white), farmworkers (black and white), and visitors to farms (black and white) were being killed then, and are still being killed today. What he said then was false. A complete and utter fabrication.”