The circumstance and manner of death are numbing: farmers hacked and mutilated by machetes, dragged to death behind vehicles, stabbed with farm tools, shot execution style, and more — much more.
The death toll of white farmers murdered in South Africa since 1991 stands at approximately 3,000. The tally is shocking, especially when noting that South Africa currently only has about 38,000 farmers.
And while the list of dead expands, the international media response diminishes. No one wants to touch it; no one wants to ask the questions, and all the while, the farm attacks continue. A U.S. State Department delegation toured South Africa this past August. The diplomatic schedule allowed plenty of space for photo-ops and financial aid announcements during the day and even a fat chunk of time for club dancing in the evening. But as for 3,000 dead farmers — not a word was mentioned.
The murders have been attributed to “poverty” and “robbery motives” and South Africa does have a phenomenal murder rate — approximately 34 murders per 100,000 people (U.S. rate: six murders per 100,00 people), but the gruesome nature of the killings, the political drumbeat, and South Africa’s apartheid legacy say otherwise.
South Africa’s ruling political party, the African National Congress (ANC), explains away the deaths, attributing them to “regular” crime. But the ANC has consistently pushed for some form of land redistribution, wanting 30 percent of farmland under black control by 2014. As 2013 approaches, just less than 10 percent of farmland is black-owned. White farmers fear that the 30 percent mark is merely a starting point, with a far greater land-grab to follow.
Present reality in neighboring Zimbabwe says land distribution is a recipe for disaster. A quick peek across the border at Zimbabwe should send a chill across the collective ANC leadership. Zimbabwe was once the breadbasket of Africa, but is now on the road to economic ruin.
(For more, see Death of the white African farmer)
It appears the ANC is headed down that same road, and white farmers are facing a bleak future. With 25 percent unemployment, a groundswell of social discontent, and a raging HIV plight, South Africa has little concern for the producers that grow its food.
In an interview with Digital Journal, Rian van der Walt, an independent filmmaker and director of a documentary on the white farmer murders (War of the Flea), said, “The government says that everyone is affected by crime and that everyone should get the same treatment. Even though I understand the argument, it is difficult to agree when a farmer is dragged behind a vehicle or stabbed 141 times and then his two-year old daughter is shot in the head…”
The killings will go on. The latest: 54-year-old Christopher Preece was murdered on his South African farm at the end of November. Three killers stole $340 and Preece’s cellphone. They also hacked Preece to death with machetes on his kitchen floor.
Just a “regular” crime…
(See below for War of the Flea trailer)
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