NATIONAL NEWS - Lobby group AfriForum has branded farm attacks and murders a form of terror.
AfriForum’s head of policy and action, Ernst Roets, said their members were among thousands of people who came together in Senekal in the Free State on Tuesday for the court appearance of two men arrested for the murder of farm manager Brendin Horner.
There were violent scenes at the small Free State town’s court when a group of angry farmers apparently wanted to take the law into their own hands on Tuesday.
At least two shots were fired, a police vehicle was overturned and set alight and court property was damaged by the angry farmers, who forced their way to the holding cells, Free State police spokesperson Brigadier Motantsi Makhele said at the time.
The group allegedly wanted to personally avenge the death of 22-year-old Horner.
Two alleged stock thieves are suspected to have come in contact with Horner last week. His body was discovered in an open space in Paul Roux in the early hours of the morning. He had been murdered and tied, with a rope around his neck, to a pole. He had serious injuries to his head and face.
A large group of farmers gathered outside the court ahead of the appearance of Sekwetje Isaiah Mahlamba, 32, and Sekola Piet Matlaletsa, 44, who were arrested for his murder.
Addressing farmers outside the court building, local farmer Jess de Klerk said farmers were demanding that the accused be denied bail.
“We demand that no bail be granted to all farm attacks and violent criminals,” De Klerk said in a video recorded by Netwerk24.
Chaos ensued shortly after the two accused appeared in the dock and were taken back to the holding cells, with farmers demanding that they be released to them instead.
Roets said the solution to farm murders was two-pronged.
“The message of farm murders must be spread to the ends of the earth and taken to the council chambers of the United Nations to ensure that the international community takes note,” Roets said.
“The second part of the solution, which is even more important, is for people to realise that the government will not solve the crisis.
“Communities must rather become the solution themselves by joining community safety structures to enable them to look after their own safety,” Roets said.
Roets said those who were outside the Senekal Magistrate’s Court expressed sympathy and compassion, but they were also furious about the situation in the country.
“The fury that the people expressed is the consequence of the cruelty of a problem that simply persists, coupled with government’s lackadaisical attitude toward farm murders,” Roets said.
Meanwhile, the police, Agri SA, Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa (TLU SA) and AfriForum met in Pretoria on Monday on criminality in rural communities.
The parties engaged in robust discussions on interventions, including matters of mutual trust, the reservist system, a rural safety summit, cross-border crime affecting the farming community and the economics of policing.
National police commissioner General Khehla Sitole reiterated the “unwavering commitment” of the police to prioritise crime in rural areas both proactively and reactively.
The parties agreed to formalise the establishment of the national and local Joint Rural Safety Command Centres.
Cross-border crime affecting farmers was also discussed and emphasis was placed on resourcing police stations at borders, improving intelligence and the establishment of cross-border liaison committees.
“Crime intelligence will enhance its approach in determining the hotspot areas through its continued participation in the priority committee meetings, all levels of policing as well as the establishment of a Rural Safety Analysis desk,” Sitole said.