A tense quarrel between white farmers and black activists gripped the South African city of Seneca on Friday as two men accused of killing a white farm manager would appear in court.
More than 100 police officers patrolled the area in front of the courthouse in Free State province and used barbed wire to separate rival groups.
Sekwetjie Mahlamba and Sekola Matlaletsa appeared in magistrate court on charges of killing Brendin Horner, 21, on October 1st. Their request for parole was postponed to October 20.
About 250 white farmers gathered to protest the killing, accusing the police of not properly protecting white farmers. At an early court hearing last week, a group of white farmers attacked the courthouse and set fire to a police vehicle.
The country’s left-wing opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, mobilized about 1,000 of its supporters to challenge white farmers in court. They sang songs and shouted slogans demanding that the land of South Africa be returned to the Black people. Many were wearing red EFF party uniforms and berets.
EFF leader Julius Malema arrived in Seneca on Friday expected to speak to his supporters after the court hearing.
While most of the farmers and white organizations they represent have called for farm killings to become a priority crime, the government insists white farmers are not targeted, saying the violence is the result of a relatively high crime rate. South Africa. South Africa has one of the highest crime statistics in the world, with a homicide rate of over 58 deaths per day.
Official crime statistics of the country show that there were 49 homicides on farms in the financial year 2019/2020.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his weekly letter to the nation on Monday, condemned Horners’ murder but said farm killings were part of the biggest crime problem.
“Those people who think that farm attacks affect only a small part of our population are wrong. The farming community is an integral part of our economy,” Ramaphosa wrote.
The Senecal assassination has also raised the controversial issue of land ownership in the country.
Much of South Africa’s best agricultural land is owned by white farmers, as a result of the expulsion of black farmers when the country was run by a white minority. Although South Africa now has majority rule, land ownership remains a contentious issue, with parties like the EFF urging the government to seize white-owned land without compensation and return it to black families.
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