Johanesburg - Farm attacks should be viewed within the context of the country's high crime statistics, and not as racially motivated, President Jacob Zuma has told Beeld newspaper.
Many attacks took place on the farms of white commercial farmers, and had the appearance of being racially motivated, but this was not the case, Zuma told the newspaper in an interview on Tuesday.
He said that many murders took place in South Africa's townships, and these were not always reported in the media.
The government rejected farm attacks and would attend to farmers' concerns that the comprehensive rural safety plan was not getting off the ground.
Asked why farm murders were not being made a priority crime, Zuma said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa had said in Parliament that farm attacks were just as much of a priority as any other crime.
The recent court case against the murderers of Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging leader Eugene Terreblanche had again shown that crime, rather than politics, was the driving factor behind the attacks, he said.
Praising the country's commercial farmers, Zuma said: “Wherever I go, established farmers tell me that they're prepared to act as mentors for emerging farmers.”
Freedom Front Plus said Zuma was ill-informed.
“President Zuma is clearly ill-informed about farm murders if he says that race does not play a role,” the party's spokesman Pieter Groenewald said in a statement.
He claimed research had shown in 2003 that 2 percent of farm murders were racially driven.
“The reality is that the cruelty with which the farm murders are perpetrated attests that it is not ordinary criminality.”
“The president should firstly tell us how many farm murders have taken place since 2007 for him to be able to prove his statement.”
He claimed the figure for murders of farmers stood at around 313 per 100,000 of the population while the figure for the murder of “ordinary people” was 32 per 100,000.
“If Zuma wants to resolve farm murders he has to concede to the request of the Freedom Front Plus...to make crime statistics on farm murders available and to declare farm murders as a priority crime,” said Groenewald. - Sapa