Ramaphosa’s words on farm murders ring hollow, we need to see action
12 October 2020
746 day ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the world via an interview in New York, that no farmers were being killed in South Africa. Yet in the year he made that claim, there were 394 attacks and 56 murders. In 2019, there were 419 attacks and 56 murders. And in 2020 there have been some 200 attacks, and over 50 murders to date.
In June, the Democratic Alliance (DA) launched an awareness campaign and asked the President not only to retract that statement, but additionally to apologise to the men and women in our rural areas who are living in fear while still working 24/7 to feed our country.
Only now, today, because the flood of fury and anger has finally broken its banks, has President Ramaphosa been moved to respond. He referred to the murder of young Brendin Horner – who was horribly tortured to death. But failed to also include the hundreds of others who have been murdered since he claimed there were no farmers being murdered in our country.
He then said Brendin’s killing “should anger and upset every one of us”. What country does the President live in? It can’t possibly be the one we live in – where farm murders are glorified? Where farmers are vilified on a daily basis?
Mr President, you are quite correct that the majority of victims of violent crimes are black and poor, but surely someone has told you that it is four times more dangerous to be on a farm than in any other area of South Africa?
We are already 26 years into our democracy, and only now does the President notice that we have a huge task to bring an end to murder, assault, robbery and rape? Is it that he has only recently noticed – despite our speaking out about these farm attacks for over 20 years? Did it take our concerted campaign that we began in June, to finally bring this to his attention?
Or did the fulminating signs of a potential civil war in response to these tortures and murders finally catch the President’s attention?
The President’s newsletter today is a case of too little, too late. Had he ever shown the slightest care for our farmers, farm workers, or their families – they may not today be so terribly at risk that they are leaving our country in droves. They are moving into the welcoming arms of many other countries – Malawi, Zambia, the USA, the UK and much of Europe – growing food for them, and no longer for us. Since 1994 we have dropped from 120 000 commercial farmers to 38 000.
And this weak newsletter with its hollow words is all the President can offer.
Those of us without bodyguards know what is going on. The whole country knew what a powder keg Senekal was. Yet somehow the President and the South African Police Service (SAPS) didn’t notice until it was too late. Instead, in the face of murder after murder after murder, Ramaphosa spouts homilies.
South Africans do not need a lecture from the President. They want solutions. They want certainty that their President will ensure that these murders are declared Priority and Hate Crimes. They want to see funding go to the rural police stations so that farmers may actually sleep at night rather than patrol. They need the President’s promise that there will be investigations when farmers report that police are in on the stock theft syndicates.
Instead, the President tells farming communities that private security must work with the SAPS. Sir, they already do.
The President should dismiss whoever it is advising him, and spend a few days speaking with those who live and work in terror on the ground.
Ramaphosa should retract his 2018 statement, apologise, and listen to our farmers – and in case his advisor hasn’t told him, our farmers are white, black, coloured and Indian. And all of them are in terrible danger and need equal protection from the police.
Issued by Dianne Kohler Barnard, DA Shadow Minister of State Security, 12 October 2020