A South African city prepared for racist violence today when black protesters with golf clubs and cricket bats took off against white farmers in pickup trucks in a court where two black men are accused of killing a farmer.
The murder of Brendin Horner sparked riot in the town of Senekal, with white protesters storming the courthouse last week, firing shots and setting fire to a police car.
Today hundreds of black protesters affiliated with the Economic Freedom Fighters movement, which supports the redistribution of land from whites, gathered outside the courthouse with some stones thrown, though they tried to remain calm.
The black protesters waved golf clubs, hockey sticks and cricket sticks before the two murder suspects appeared in court for the second time today.
The peasants, accusing the government of failing to protect them from violent crimes, arrived in vans, some in military outfits, and others waving “Boer Lives Matter” banners in today’s battle.
Black protesters linked to the Economic Freedom Fighters movement protest outside the Senekal court today. A man at the front holds a golf club in his hand
White people in military uniforms were kept away from black protesters with barbed wire as the small town braced itself for racist violence following the recent farm murder in South Africa
A clash between the supporters of Economic Freedom Fighters in their red berets (left) and the farmers of the AfriForum group (right) on the streets of Senekal today
The small town came into the international spotlight after protesting white farmers broke into the trial last week.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said that one of the murder suspects was arrested 16 times before his last imprisonment for Horner’s murder.
Cele visited the city on Tuesday and met the murdered peasant family.
The leader of the freedom fighters, Julius Malema, had warned that he would mobilize supporters to come to Senekal on bail before today’s hearing.
“We’re going to meet white men face to face,” Malema said two days after tweeting a picture of a rifle in Johannesburg.
Wearing their signature red shirts and berets, the Freedom Fighters hosted a march today that was attended by hundreds, while many white farmers arrived in khaki shirts and shorts, some in military clothing.
“We have to scare the racists, they must never feel comfortable in our democracy,” said a tweet from the Freedom Fighters report today.
Police separated the two groups with barbed wire in a street, but they regrouped and faced each other in a different area when police helicopters hovered overhead.
According to News24, some farmers said, “We don’t want a war, but what should we do, run away? We are not cowards. We are here to show who and what we are. ‚
The outlet said some of the black protesters threatened violence even though the marshals “worked very, very hard to control their supporters.”
A protester in a balaclava mask accompanies the supporters of the Economic Freedom Fighters in their typical red outfits as they march in Senekal today
White protesters stand near the barbed wire. A man holds a placard that reads “Boer Lives Matter,” a reference to the white people who own most of South African farmland
Last week: A police car after being set on fire by white protesters who stormed a courthouse when the suspects first appeared
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday urged people not to use the killing to fuel racial tension, saying it shows “how easily the tinderbox of racial hatred can be ignited”.
“We must oppose all attempts to use crime on farms to mobilize communities on a racist basis,” he said.
Farm killings are an explosive issue in South Africa, where most of the private farmland belongs to white people, 26 years after apartheid ended.
White activist groups advocate the idea of being victims of “white genocide,” but Ramaphosa this week insisted that “murders on the farm are not ethnic cleansing.”
‘You are not genocide. It’s criminal activity, ”said Ramaphosa.
But Afriforum, a group of Africans who own most of the private land, said Ramaphosa’s words “failed to resolve this crisis”.
“Part of the farm murder crisis is that high-ranking politicians, including those in the ruling party, willingly romanticize violence against farmers in their statements,” said Afriforum boss Ernst Roets.
The 21-year-old farm manager Brendin Horner, who was murdered on a farm near the town of Paul Roux in the Free State
South Africa has the fifth highest homicide rate in the world, and white farmers only make up a tiny fraction of the total.
The government is preparing to expropriate white land without compensation in order to eradicate economic inequalities.
The alleged instigator of last week’s court riot, businessman Andre Pienaar, is in custody and is charged with public violence, attempted murder and incitement.
According to the prosecutor, he is also facing possible charges of terrorism.
John Mathuhle, a pastor in town, said what was meant to be a “peaceful” protest by farmers outside the courthouse last week “didn’t end really well.”
“As a result, we had a lot of racial tension,” he said.
“We only pray for peace. The civil war is not going to start in Senekal, and that’s what we want to say here, no to civil war, no to racism, no to farm murders. ‚
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