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May 09, 2010

Two South African farmers attacked per day: union

Two farmers are attacked every day in South Africa and two killed per week, the country's biggest agricultural union Agri SA has said.

"The statistics (are) well known: 11,785 attacks, 1,804 murders since '91," Agri SA's Andre Botha told parliament's police committee, violence that mirrors South Africa's national crime plague that sees an average 50 people killed a day.

"We're talking about two attacks per day, we're talking about two farm murders per week, and it's increasing. What is a very worrying aspect is the brutality in which the murders are conducted."

The briefing follows the recent killing of a right-winger, allegedly by two farmworkers, which inflamed South Africa's race tensions amid anger over a "shoot the boer" (farmer) slogan sung by a ruling party youth leader.

Botha said one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture was irresponsible remarks from government officials and political leaders.

"The hate speech and the inflammatory remarks should not be tolerated," said Botha.

Farm killings are a racially charged matter in South Africa with official reforms having failed to dent apartheid land patterns that left the bulk of farms in white hands 16 years after majority rule.

"A transgression to one is a transgression to all. We want to form a partnership with the authorities," said Botha.

Agricultural unions called on officials not to distinguish between white and black victims on farms.

"Black farmers, farm workers and farm dwellers are gravely affected by crime," said Ismail Motala of the United South African Agricultural Association, which represents some 1,800 mainly black farmers in the Western Cape province.

"Crime on farms or in the rural communities is not racially based. Crime affects our members and their families all the time."


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