Hartswater farm murders: AfriForum together with hundreds of community members at murder suspects’ first appearance

AfriForum attended court proceedings in Hartswater in the Northern Cape today, where five suspects had appeared for the cruel murder of Elzabie (54), Breggie (73) and Danie Brand (83).

Hundreds of people from Hartswater and surrounding communities showed up at the Magistrate’s Court with posters condemning these and farm murders in general. The local AfriForum branch cooperated with the town’s community safety unit, the local farming community and the SAPS to track down the five suspects. AfriForum’s Trauma Support Unit arranged counselling for the family and neighbours of the victims.

According to Johan Kruger, AfriForum’s Head of Community Development, there was a sense of unity and solidarity among community members today. He and Lize-Mari Smit, AfriForum’s District Coordinator for the Karoo, attended the court proceedings.

“The community united today to stand together. People have had enough – they want Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa here. He must look the community squarely in the eye and explain why farm attacks and murders are still considered ordinary crimes. Communities are tired of feeling unsafe, saying loud and clear that enough is now enough,” Kruger says.

The civil rights organisation launched an intensified campaign against farm murders on 8 July after the recent months saw an upsurge in farm attacks. This year has so far witnessed 186 farm attacks and 29 farm murders. In July alone, 39 attacks occurred, in which nine people were murdered.

As part of its campaign, AfriForum wrote an open letter to Pres. Ramaphosa in which the organisation demanded his intervention. AfriForum also set out ten practical steps that government should take in effectively curbing farm murders.

Ernst Roets, Head of Policy and Action at AfriForum, says that AfriForum is not asking for special treatment for farm attacks, but for equal treatment.

“The South African government has no qualm about developing focused counter-strategies to curb a number of unique crimes. including violence against women and children, gang-related violence, copper cable theft, cash-in-transit heists and rhino poaching, to name a few. It is only in the case of farm murders that we are suddenly confronted with Cabinet members who – at worst – justify these crimes, or – at best – downplay the existence of the crisis.”

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