Stop killing farmers, demand protesters

“We spend millions of rands on security instead of growing food for the nation”

Photo of protesters

Demonstrators against farm murders gathered near Cape Town Stadium. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

By Tariro Washinyira

30 October 2017

Thousands of people, many of them farmers, drove in convoy to Cape Town on Monday, eventually gathering at the Green Point stadium, to protest against farm murders. For much of the morning and afternoon the N1 into Cape Town moved at a snail’s pace.

“I want these killings to stop. I do not want any woman to suffer the way I did … My children are heartbroken,” said Marlene Conradie, widow of murdered farmer Joubert Conradie of Uitkyk farm in Klapmuts.

“We are ordinary people who grow grapes, peaches and olives,” she said. Marlene and her two children, Hannes (15) and Jane (11), were marching in Monday’s protest, titled “Genoeg is genoeg, enough is enough”.

AfriForum says: “Since 1 January 2017, at least 341 farm attacks have been committed, during which at least 70 people have been murdered. This means that during 2017 so far, there has already been more farm murders than the total amount of farm murders during 2016.”

According to Africa Check “police’s statistics differ” from those previously supplied by AfriForum. There are also other figures given by the Transvaal Agricultural Union. There are reasons for the differences based on methodology and also the definition of famer and farm or rural smallholding. It is extremely difficult to verify or determine how many farm owners have been killed on farms and also what the statistics are for farm workers living on farms.

Marlene Conradie and her 15 year old son Hannes console each other. Marlene’s husband Joubert Conradie was murdered on their farm in Klapmuts last week.

The protesters wore black regalia and held placards with: “Stop killing farmers”, “In memory of murdered farmers” and “No farmer no food”. GroundUp saw just one person with a small old South African flag on their T-shirt.

A dairy farmer and wheat producer, Thys Swart Swellendam of Grootvadersbosch Landgoed, told GroundUp: “We provide jobs for many farm workers and for each farmer that is killed, it means job losses and farms are ruined, and the secondary industry as well, because we produce raw materials for factories and other industries.”

He said farm workers are also attacked sometimes and their families are in danger. “We spent millions of rands just on security. That keeps us busy instead of growing food for the nation. With drought in the Western Cape, it is difficult because besides buying stock for animals we must also spend on security. Police, who should be providing security, are not doing that. Farmers are dependent on themselves and their neighbours.”

Some are however critical of the farmers. Colette Solomon, Director of Women on Farms Project (WFP) told GroundUp: “Women on farms do not feel safe from the farmers. They experience verbal, physical, sexual abuse and intimidation. Their tenure and housing rights are frequently violated but when they report to the police, police don’t take action. As a result most of them do not report abuse.”

Protesters hold hands and pray. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks