President Cyril Ramaphosa says the violent protest that took place after the court appearance of the two men linked to Brendin Horner’s murder in Senekal, in the Free State, shows that we have not yet escaped the “divisions and mistrust of our past”.
Ramaphosa said the murders of Horner and three young men — Mogamad Cloete, Tawqeer Essop and André Bennett — who were shot in Delft in Western Cape last month — were a stark reminder of the levels of violence in the country.
“While crime affects everyone, the majority of victims of violent crime are black and poor; and it is young black men and women who are at a disproportionately greater risk of being murdered.
“We have a huge task to bring an end to murder, assault, robbery, rape and violence against women and children wherever it happens and whoever it affects. It requires that all peace-loving South Africans stand together not only to condemn these criminal acts, but also to work together to end them.
“It requires that we hold fast to the principles contained in our constitution, that we uphold the rule of law and that we strengthen our justice system to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.”
To succeed in tackling violent crime, particularly in rural communities, we need to challenge racial attitudes, Ramaphosa said.
He said the farming community was an integral part of the country’s economy.
“The farming community produces the food we eat. Violent crime on farms poses not just a threat to the safety of our rural communities, but to our nation’s food security.
“The claim that violent crime on farms is part of an orchestrated campaign by blacks to drive white farmers off their land is simply not borne out by fact.”
Ramaphosa denounced “irresponsible claims” by some lobby groups, saying that killings on farms are not “ethnic cleansing”.
“They are not genocidal. They are acts of criminality and must be treated as such.”
He said the success of a rural safety strategy rested on greater co-ordination and better communication between the SA Police Service, business, farming organisations and communities.
“One murder is a murder too many. We stand in solidarity with all victims of crime, regardless of whether they live in cities or on farms, whether they are farmers or farmworkers.
“We must remain vigilant and work with the police to keep our communities safe. We must not harbour criminals among us. In far too many instances, perpetrators are known to communities and are sheltered by them.
“We must not be blinded by our own prejudices to the suffering and pain of others. It should not matter to us if the victim of violent crime is black or white.”