Police Minister Cele. Photo: GCIS

While South Africa’s Police Minister Bheki Cele has today expressed “shock and disgust” at the vandalism and arson of State infrastructure by a group of farmers during a demonstration at the Senekal Magistrate Court, AfriForum has insisted that it is in fact Cele and President Cyril Ramaphosa who must accept responsibility for the events in Senekal yesterday, during the first appearance of the two men accused of the murder of Brendin Horner (21).

The events unfolded on Tuesday during a protest by farmers, who gathered outside the court, demanding justice for the young murdered farm manager. Two suspects – who police claimed were “stock thieves” – appeared in court on Tuesday for the brutal killing of the 21-year-old.

Police reports indicate that following the brief court appearance, around 100 demonstrators, among them armed farmers, stormed into the court building, demanding the suspects be handed over to them.

According to police, this violent act resulted in the vandalism of court property, and a police vehicle was also overturned and set alight.

Police say they had to use teargas to disperse the violent group. Minister Cele said he is adamant that such criminal behaviour will never be tolerated. He has called on police to act swiftly and arrest those responsible.

“While we all condemn the gruesome killing of this young man in Paul Roux, absolutely no one has the right to take the law into their own hands – no matter what the situation is. This type of lawlessness can’t be justified or taken lightly,” said Cele.

The Minister questioned the demonstrators’ motives for turning their anger towards the police.

“There is no logic when these protestors burn a police van, which is the same resource that is meant to assist them. It is also baffling why the anger of this community is being directed towards the police, when arrests have been made by the police and the suspects are before the courts,” said the Minister.

Cele reminded South Africans that the right to peaceful protest is part of any democratic society and is enshrined in our Constitution.

“However, the right to protest is not absolute and it comes with responsibilities,” the Minister said.

AfriForum explained it is the South African Government’s apparent “continuous denial of farm murders and its refusal to declare these priority crimes” that is the reason that emotions exploded yesterday in the Free State town.

The organisation pointed out that Ramaphosa earlier denied the existence of farm murders on an international platform, while Cele provoked farmers and humiliated them at a meeting in KwaZulu-Natal last month to discuss their problems.

“Government is completely out of touch with the fight and pleas of the rural communities and farmers,” AfriForum said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Their condemnation of the actions of the people in Senekal yesterday speaks of government’s double standards. Cele and other ministers now demand that these people be arrested, while the same ministers simply looked on while EFF supporters looted and torched Clicks outlets.”

Ernst Roets, head of Policy and Action at AfriForum, claims that people are “continuously confronted with the reality of farm murders, having to comfort their loved while government have no regard for their grief”.