Pretoria – Police Minister Fikile Mbalula is part of the problem in solving the ongoing scourge of farm attacks and murders which have left South African farmers fearing for their lives, civil rights group AfriForum on Monday.
"We do not get feedback from the minister, so we believe that the minister is part of the problem at this stage. We will continue to put pressure on government but we are not going to align our campaign in such a way that the solution will, at the end of the day, depend on the minister," AfriForum deputy CEO Ernst Roets told African News Agency (ANA) in Pretoria.
He was speaking at a farm murder protest at Voortrekker Monument, south Pretoria, where protesters dressed in black gathered.
"We are going to continue. We are going to look at our own safety better. We are going to continue with international awareness campaigns. We are going to continue with all of these protest gatherings but we not going to wait for the minister. Fikile Mbalula has made it quite clear that he is not prepared to do something about this."
Thousands of people took to the streets in different parts of South Africa, in a protest dubbed #BlackMonday, raising international awareness on the attacks and killings of farmers in the country.
Several major roads were blockaded in Cape Town and in Pretoria.
AfriForum has consistently criticised Mbalula for failing to release specific figures and statistics of farm attacks and murders when he tabled the 2016/17 crime statistics in Parliament last week.
“Yesterday [Tuesday] the crime statistics were released by the minister of police and we heard the horrible numbers that South Africa’s murder ratio has increased yet again. In the last year, there was 19,016 murders in South Africa, which means there was about two murders every hour – for an entire year. That really indicates that South Africa is in fact a very violent country, and suffering from extreme levels of crime, which is very concerning to us,” said Roets last week.
“What is even more concerning relating to this particular topic is the fact that once again no statistics regarding farm attacks were released yesterday. There was a question to that effect posed to the minister to which he responded by declining or refraining from providing any numbers.
"His answer almost created an impression that he was trying to depict farmers as being racists. He said we must remember there was a case in which a farmer shot someone thinking it was a baboon and so forth.”
Roets took issue with Mbalula’s response. He said the last farm attacks and murders statistics were made public in 2007.
“Of course horrible incidents happen but we believe it was very inappropriate for the minister of police to respond like that when people ask why there are no statistics on farm killings,” he said.
AfriForum said there is clearly an increase in farm attacks and murders on South African farms.
“We know that our data in terms of farm attacks is insufficient because we know that a farm attack where no one is killed is not newsworthy anymore. It happens literally almost every day in South Africa, but we do find that farm murders [attacks] where people are killed are still reported unfortunately in some media publications more than others,” said Roets.
On Tuesday, Mbalula had said farmers should ensure they were compliant with the country’s laws and also desist from hiring undocumented foreigners.
“When they turn against you, you blame the police.”