DA 'driving a wedge', warns deputy minister during farm murder debate

There have been 21 farm murders and 147 farm attacks in the past four months, DA MP Diane Kohler-Barnard told parliament on Tuesday.
There have been 21 farm murders and 147 farm attacks in the past four months, DA MP Diane Kohler-Barnard told parliament on Tuesday.
Image: 123RF/gorosi

Deputy agriculture minister Mcebisi Skwatsha has rejected DA criticism that the government does not care about the plight of white farmers.

Skwatsha was responding to DA MP Diane Kohler-Barnard during her party's sponsored debate on farm murders in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

“South Africa belongs to all those who live in it, united in our diversity. Therefore all reasonable, peace-loving South Africans must condemn in the strongest terms what is clearly behaviour that is cruel, anti-social, barbaric and harmful to our endeavours to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, prosperous South African society,” said Skwatsha.

“We must all stand in solidarity with the affected families and vow in unison, to prevent, to combat farm murders. We must do everything we can to make sure that the culprits are caught, prosecuted and sent to jail. All lives matter - whether they are the lives of farm workers or the lives of farm owners.

“It is very misleading to say that the farming community is irrelevant to the ANC government, as alleged by the honourable Kohler-Barnard. At a risk of stating the obvious, this ANC government, elected by the people of South Africa, is concerned about every South African life.

“This attempt by some in the opposition is driving a wedge between our government and the farming community and sector and cannot be left unchallenged.

“We must also never allow ourselves to be mobilised in a way that would further polarise the South African society. In this instance, we must be wary of race mobilisation - however tempting it may be.”

Opening the debate, Kohler-Barnard said farm murders and attacks had increased during the national lockdown, claiming this was because police minister Bheki Cele had barred farm owners from conducting their own patrols.

The issue has come under sharp focus following the killing of a farming couple in the town of Newcastle in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Another farming family suffered a horrific killing in the Northern Cape town of Hartswater last month.

“The DA has been speaking out against farm attacks for two decades, but it was as we watched the attack numbers rising during the country-killing lockdown that we took a stand. This is because the police minister chose to forbid the patrolling system that farm owners had set up over decades in an attempt to keep their families safe,” said Kohler-Barnard.

“There have been 21 murders and 147 attacks in these past four months alone.”

EFF MP Nonhlanhla Mkhonto was dismissive of Kohler-Barnard's concerns.

“They were able to first crystalise the myth about whites being a superior race, and therefore entitled to dispossess black people from their land, murder them and make them slaves in their own land,” she said.

"Behind this myth, however, was an unrelenting agenda to justify their rapacious looting, their unquenchable thirst for the blood of African people, their obsessive re-occupation with dominating and oppressing black people.

“When this country was freed from political apartheid, they again resorted to making myths about their exclusive ability to farm productively and they did this to foreclose any possibility for radical land reforms in this country.

“The debate about farm murders and so-called white genocide in this country is an extension of this myth-making scam by right-wingers who are hell-bent on maintaining their ill-begotten wealth by all means possible,” she added. 

- TimesLIVE


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