Eric Naki
Political Editor
3 minute read
31 Aug 2019
6:10 am

Black farmers ‘besieged’ by attackers, stock thieves – union

Eric Naki

Many black farmers and their workers have been victims of farm attacks, but their plight has not got media attention as the attacks on white farmers has.

Picture is for illustrative purposes. Nomusa Gwala used to be a teacher. Now she is a sugar cane farmer, a brick maker and a haulage contractor. Picture: Supplied

Organised black farmers struggling to come to terms with the brutal killing of a Limpopo farmer and his longtime employee are demanding the authorities take action.

They said attacks on black farmers and their workers were continuing unnoticed in the country.

Farmer and entrepreneur Simon Malebane, 61, and his employee, Daniel Ngoagamobe, 59, were attacked and killed at Malebane’s farm at Radium, about 20km from Bela Bela in Limpopo recently.

Family spokesperson Kgati Malebane said the farmer was nearing his house when he stopped to open a gate and was ambushed on the night of August 16. He was severely assaulted with pangas and taken inside the house.

The attackers found Ngoagamode sleeping in the house and shot him in the head.

Police found both men dead on the morning of August 17.

Malebane had farms in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West and ran a string of businesses.

His nephew Kgati Malebane described his uncle as an excellent entrepreneur and provider.

“He was a loving husband, father, uncle and mentor to all of us.

“He guided us in daily business and throughout our lives,” Kgati said.

National African Farmers Union president Motsepe Matlala condemned the murders as “cruel, gruesome and merciless”.

Matlala said many black farmers and their workers had been victims of farm attacks and stock theft, but their plight had not got media attention as the attacks on white farmers had.

“The narrative that only white farmers are attacked or killed is incorrect.

“The media and South Africans in general have not paid attention to the plight of black farmers. But we have not been making much noise, like white farmers have.”

Matlala described several instances of attacks and stock theft on black-owned farms in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and other parts of the country.

He said that during 2016 and 2017 there had been 19 attacks in the Nkangala region of Mpumalanga and four farmers had been killed.

“In one case, a woman was raped by one of the attackers in front of her father-in-law, who is our union regional chairperson.

“In Gert Sibande area there were 26 stock theft incidents, but only five arrests were made,” Matlala said.

Many attacks had been reported in the former KwaNdebele area, including Siyabuswa and KwaMhlanga, and in Cullinan and Bronkhorstpruit.

In Witbank and Emakhazeni municipal area there had been nine attacks and one death reported.

Stock theft was worst in Limpopo’s Waterberg region and there had been seven deaths there.

In the Free State and North West provinces, especially the Bojanala (Rustenburg) part of North West, there had been two deaths and several cases of stock theft.

Matlala added: “The narrative that only white farmers are being killed is not true.

“At the moment we are researching whether poverty and unemployment had anything to do with this, or conflict between farm workers and their bosses.”

He appealed to black farmers and their unions to put their political differences aside and join forces to fight the scourge of farm attacks which affected all farmers regardless of skin colour or which unions they were members of.

“There is no need for unions to fight over matters of national interest like farm attacks,” Matlala said.

Matlala also condemned the allegations of some that the genocide of white farmers in South Africa was under way.

“We must rally behind the police and work with them to fight this criminality,” he added.

ericn@citizen.co.za

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