The Black Farmers Association of South Africa (BFASA) has criticized what they call government's "unequal" treatment of black farmers and farm workers.
BFASA, which was established to organise black farmers, said the government's response whenever a white farmer is killed or attacked, is far different from when the same attacks are meted to black farmers.
The association's comments follow Tuesday’s visit to Senekal, Free State, by Minister of Police Bheki Cele and his State Security counterpart Ayanda Dlodlo, who also visited the family of slain farm manager Brendin Horner, as well as Cele’s recent visit to Normadien in KwaZulu-Natal, following the killing of farmers.
“Our government must put its foot down in terms of this. A farmer recently killed a farm worker and buried him in the Western Cape. Nothing was done about it nor was it reported in the media or a visit by authorities. The white people only care for themselves. A black life means nothing to these outlaws (farmers). They beat up people to death and no one says nothing. But when it's one white that dies, all of them are up in arms. They need to treat black people equally,” said BFASA president Dr Lennox Mtshagi.
He also attributed farm killings to the abuse and bad treatment of farm workers by some farm owners. He said the regulation of the agriculture sector and the unionising of farm workers could help reduce racial tensions in the sector, stop the abuse and bullying of farm workers and give them a voice.
“White farmers are not being targeted. It’s mostly retaliation. They beat their employees to death, abuse them or even chase them away. The treatment that they give to the farm workers is cruel, racist and bullying, and they eventually retaliate. Some don’t even protect these farmers when they are being attacked by people in their farms because they are angry about the treatment that has been meted to them,” explained Mtshagi.
He alleged that police are friends with the farmers and farm workers are afraid to report them as they will be assaulted and dismissed if they do so.
“The relationship between white police officers and white farmers...they’re too soft on them. Senekal police were caught unaware, but police are generally softer on whites than black people. It is apartheid mentality. If it was blacks behaving that way, they could have been killed, another Marikana massacre [style]. If they say fire with fire to black people, it must also apply to white people,” Mtshagi said.
He added that together with other black farmers associations Farmers United South Africa, National African Farmers Union of South Africa and African Farmers Association of South Africa, they would soon meet Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, to present proposals on how the sector can be regulated.
“We do have platforms and meetings, but white people don’t attend them. Through these platforms, we have decided that all retailers that are not buying from us, but have retail stores in our areas, need to procure 100% from black farmers or hit the road. We want them to buy directly from us, to narrow the gap and bring our people back to farming. Even the land the minister is talking about that they’ll give to black farmers, it is just a fraction of what they have taken from black people,” he said.