Nathi Mthethwa

Michael Mpofu

Political Bureau

POLICE Minister Nathi Mthethwa has accused lobby group AfriForum of “racialising crime” and using “publicity stunts” at the expense of real crime victims.

Mthethwa’s spokesman, Zweli Mnisi, claimed yesterday the organisation was trying to use the minister as a “drawcard” by falsely advertising that he would be present at its functions and in meetings.

Mnisi referred to an event two years ago which AfriForum had allegedly claimed Mthethwa would be attending as the guest speaker. But the department had been unaware of such an arrangement.

AfriForum was accused of trying to pull another “publicity stunt” yesterday when its deputy chief executive, Ernst Roets, accompanied by a few members, delivered letters from complainants to Mthethwa’s office.

They included a letter from a woman whose brother and father had been killed on their farm during the festive season.

Mnisi said AfriForum had informed the media there would be a meeting with the minister, but Mthethwa knew nothing of it.

“No official meeting was confirmed with AfriForum and we accordingly advised members of the media of this unfortunate publicity stunt,” he said.

The letters included a memorandum on farm attacks that Mthethwa had allegedly refused to accept in December, according to Roets in an e-mail to Mnisi.

Roets denied the claims, saying his organisation had never falsely advertised the meeting, but wanted to deliver the documents to bring farm attacks to Mthethwa’s attention.

“There is a huge crisis in safety in the agriculture community and the minister is not acting and (is) refusing to acknowledge there is a crisis,” Roets said.

He said his small delegation had not expected a meeting.

His e-mail to Mnisi on Wednesday had read: “We are planning to arrive at your offices at about 12.00. I should mention that members of the media might be present. We are not expecting a meeting with the minister or yourself tomorrow, but it will be appreciated if you or another representative of the minister were to accept the letter, instead of leaving us to drop it off at the reception.”

But Mnisi insisted the ministry had “an integrated approach” to crime that was built on “partnerships with different stakeholders”, including AfriForum.

“None of these partners ever communicated with us through publicity stunts, but interaction is maintained in a respectful and professional manner,” he said.

Although some infrastructural challenges such as accessibility of rural areas, impassable roads and lack of street lighting were matters that fell outside the ambit of the SAPS, “the police still do their best to fight crime in such areas”.

“We urge AfriForum to refrain from their divisive approach of racialising crime. Crime affects us all, black or white, young or old, rich or poor,” Mnisi said.

Roets said his organisation had never “hinted we are only trying to protect white farmers… we have repeatedly said that white farmers are not the only ones affected by farm attacks… they don’t want to see that part of our campaign”.