Last month, South Africa’s parliament voted to allow white-owned land expropriation without compensation. That followed South Africa’s new President Cyril Ramaphosa’s pledge to return the lands owned by white farmers since the 1600s to the black citizens of the country. He claimed the land was “taken under colonialism and apartheid.”
“This is normal in South Africa to be attacked on a farm,” a 39-year old farmer Berdus Henrico told the reporter.
Berdus and his 51-year old partner Estelle Nieuwenhuys have been raided in the Limpopo province. The farmer has three bullet wounds – two through his shoulder and one through his face that came out the back of his neck.
“They took my hunting gun, my shotgun, two cell phones, our DVD player, our TV,” said Berdus, adding that Estelle was praying, out loud, begging them to stop.
“They want money and they want guns. They want the people off the land so as they can go on like they want to. They want it here like it was in Zimbabwe a few years ago when they chased all the whites out and let it go to the ground.”
According to AfriForum, a group that was set up to draw attention to the farmers’ plight, there were a record 404 farm attacks in 2017, four times the number recorded in the country a decade ago. The 2018 figures are expected to easily top last year’s numbers.
AfriForum is trying to work with police and government to raise awareness.
“If we see a white farmer being tortured, being burned with torches or clothing irons, gang-raped, we don’t see any focus on these cruel crimes,” said Ian Cameron, head of AfriForum Community Safety.
The organization’s statistics show the number of commercial farmers in South Africa declined from more than 60,000 to 35,000 during the past two decades. More than 60 percent of farm attack victims were over 50 years old.
Cameron explained that the government views farm attacks as “normal” crime.
“The cruelty that goes with farm attacks is disproportionate compared to other crime,” he said. “An urban crime might last 10 minutes, but [on farms] people can be tortured for up to nine hours.”
There is something warlike in the country, according to Cameron. “This country is damaged. We are psychologically damaged,” he said.
South Africa has a population of over 50 million people. According to a 2017 government audit, white people own 72 percent of farmland.
The leader of South Africa’s radical Marxist opposition party (the Economic Freedom Fighters) Julius Malema said recently the mayor of Port Elizabeth should be removed because he is white.
“We are cutting the throat of whiteness,” said Malema.