Land rhetoric reckless - Dan Kriek

Agri SA president says violence being incited against a certain sector of society

AgriSA condemns 'unqualified statements' about land following farmer's murder

6 March 2018

Vredefort - AgriSA says the murder of a farmer near Vredefort on Sunday shows how "irresponsible and reckless" statements around land expropriation are.

Dirk Steenkamp, a well-known farmer in the Vredefort area in the Free State, was murdered in the early hours of Sunday morning.

AgriSA president Dan Kriek condemned the act and said farmers and farm workers continued to be vulnerable victims.

"Murders and other violent crime afflicting the farming community bear testimony to the serious shortcomings in people's values and lack of respect for life," he said.

Kriek claimed that utterances which have been made about the ongoing land debate in SA, have led to the "polarisation of people" and amounted to incitement of violence.

"The irresponsible and reckless utterances around the land issue that are regularly reported in the media, lead to the polarisation of people and communities, and incite violence aimed at a certain group of society.

"These types of statements do not belong in a society where mutual respect and tolerance are essential for nation-building and stability," said Kriek.

Last week, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema emphasised that there was no turning back on their call for the state to expropriate land without compensation.

He claimed that huge portions of land, currently under white ownership, were standing fallow and that farmers were keeping it just to "brag" about the hectares they own.

Elaborating on his motion for a constitutional amendment to allow expropriation without compensation, Malema said farmers should be able to continue to work their land uninterrupted, but that those parts that lay idle should be redistributed by the state.

'Justification for attacks, murder'

Kriek said Steenkamp was a known community leader and benefactor who never hesitated to help people in need.

"The murder has enraged and caused immeasurable heartache to his family, farm workers and the community."

Kriek condemned the "unqualified statements on land [as] catastrophic for agricultural development and further investment in agriculture, especially since they are based on unfounded and incorrect assumptions".

"Such utterances could be interpreted by certain individuals as justification for attacking and murdering members of the farming community."

Last week, Parliament voted in favour of a motion to look at land expropriation without compensation and the findings of reports on the demographics of land ownership.

"We believe there is still sufficient commitment within government to the principles of the Constitution, to make sure that agriculture maintains its rightful place in the economy, to create jobs and to ensure that the sector can adhere to the principle of food security," Kriek said.