ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe. File photo: ANA

CAPE TOWN - African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to apologise to the farming community for his alleged "no killings" statement, saying it is "a national disgrace".

"President Cyril Ramaphosa has disappointed most of us who trusted him by denying that land grabs are taking place in SA [South Africa] and denying that farmers are being killed," Meshoe said on Saturday.

"How can we trust a man who blatantly lies to the international community under our watch? This is a national disgrace. We call on him to apologise to the farming community," Meshoe said.

The ACDP was deeply disappointed with Ramaphosa's statement during an interview at the United Nations in New York in response to US President Donald Trump's controversial tweet in August regarding killings of farmers in South Africa.

The latest crime figures released by the South African Police Service (SAPS) showed alarming levels of crime and violence in the country, with 19,016 murders recorded between April 2016 and March 2017. Significantly, they also showed 62 farm murders during this period - with 52 of those murdered being the owners or occupiers of farms. This refuted Ramaphosa's statement, Meshoe said.

"While the Presidency has tried to explain away the comment, and claims that Ramaphosa's words have been distorted, the statement is deeply disappointing and shows a lack of sympathy for the families of murdered farmers and farm workers," he said. 

In addition to the murders, many farmers and their families had been brutally assaulted and even tortured. The post-traumatic damage caused to the families of murdered farmers and farm workers, as well as those who survived brutal assaults, was inestimable. Agri SA had also reported that farmers lost R7.7 billion in 2017 due to crime on farms. This was totally unacceptable.

"It is clear that the government is failing in its primary task of ensuring the safety of its citizens, in this case vulnerable farmers, farm workers, and their families," he .said.

The ACDP called on Ramaphosa to ensure that Police Minister Bheki Cele implemented additional measures to ensure the safety and security of farming communities. These communities were not only critical to ensure food security in the country, but also contributed significantly to job creation and economic growth, Meshoe said.

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African News Agency (ANA)