Parliamentary debates are mostly rhetoric and heckling, never more so than when brutal farm murders, their causes and how to stop them, are being debated. The latest emotive and unsubstantiated claim made this week was that it’s more dangerous to be a farmer than to be a policeman in South Africa (Freedom Front Plus). Catchy indeed, but where are the comparative stats? The content of Tuesday’s debate followed predictable party lines, with one exceptional Statesman-like observation, but at least the DA put one factual titbit on the table; During 2015/16, a total of 18,673 murders were recorded – an average of 51.2 murders per day. (Note; total murders, not how many farmers). If the FF+ and DA could source these stats (or maybe they did but the reporter missed it), we’d all be better informed – and the FF+ might have a powerful point. Instead, we’re left to ponder. What is known is that the SAPS (and thus StatsSA) are more willing to share numbers of their own members murdered than those of farmers. It’s very tempting to speculate why. Donning the unexpected mantle of statesman, Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota condemned President Jacob Zuma’s call for expropriation of land without compensation, despite what was in the Constitution, saying that it misled people into ‘attacking one another’. Msholozi was ‘without backbone following the easy populist path of former ANC Youth chief-turned-EFF leader, Julius Malema and unable to take make the tough, necessary decisions’, he added. Hard to disagree with that. – Chris Bateman
By Thulani Gqirana
Cape Town – It is more dangerous to be a farmer than a police officer in SA, a debate on farm murders heard on Tuesday in the National Assembly.
Opening the discussion, which quickly turned into a race row, FF Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said there had been a decrease in farm murders because farmers were forced to protect themselves.
He said he understood that farm attacks did not only target whites, but that black farmers were also victims.
He also gave examples of horrific crimes against white farmers in the country, before asking for a moment of silence.
“If you look at the numbers, it is almost more dangerous to be a farmer than to be a police officer in the country,” he said.
Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota got a standing ovation from a few members in the gallery when he said the right narrative on farm murders had to come from Parliament.
To stop what was going on in the country, MPs had to act like the elected leaders that they were.
He condemned President Jacob Zuma’s call for expropriation of land without compensation, despite what was in the Constitution.
“When we say things that mislead our people into attacking each other, we are the prime source of the problem. Here we have someone who is telling people they are going to take land without compensation, someone who lacks political backbone,” he said.
Lekota slammed some politicians such as Julius Malema, who has called for land expropriation without compensation.
“We cannot keep quiet when [EFF leader Julius] Malema stands on platforms and swears at some sections of the population, threatening them and saying they must wait until he comes into power. Men and women of backbone must speak so that our children are not misled.”
‘Vomiting on forgiveness’
Agang MP Andries Plouamma raised the ire of MPs when he called on “white farmers to stop vomiting on the forgiveness of black people”.
He was accused of gross racial stereotyping when he said white farmers should “minimise their arrogance”.
The EFF detailed the attacks on black farm workers in recent years, issues the FF Plus had overlooked, MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi said.
This #FarmMurders debate is heart-breaking!
It's shocking to hear just how brutal and gruesome the attacks are on residents of rural areas.
— Big Daddy Liberty (@SihleDLK) March 14, 2017
This included the recent case of a farm worker who was forced into a coffin, and the worker who was shot and injured with a pellet gun, while riding a bicycle, because he had been “mistaken for a monkey”.
“Black people have to endure the violence of poverty,” she said.
DA MP Annette Steyn said farm murders were becoming so common that people did not bat an eyelid anymore when someone was murdered.
During 2015/16, a total of 18,673 murders were recorded – an average of 51.2 murders per day, she said.
Terror Lekota warns of a looming genocide, mentions Rwanda on the issue of #farmmurders, calls on Malema to be held accountable.
— Ernst Roets (@ErnstRoets) March 14, 2017
“We may disagree with the reasons for [farm] murders, some may say it is because farmers mistreat their workers or because ‘they stole our land’, but we have to agree that the torture of any person by another is inhumane and barbaric.”
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko said all lives mattered and farm murders were a concern just like all killings. He had no desire to trivialise the killings and attacks on farms, he said.
He detailed some of their successes in decreasing farm murders.
“A loss of life is one too many. These statistics are by no means celebratory,” he said. – News24