Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has questioned the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) reaction to the protesters outside the Senekal Magistrate’s Court in the Free State on Tuesday.
Farmers were protesting outside the court, where two suspects appeared in connection with the murder of 22-year-old farm manager Brendin Horner.
The protest turned violent after farmer attempted to get to the suspects in the court’s holding cells, leading to clashes with police, resulting in one police van being overturned and set alight.
Malema said this was white people’s way of dealing with “puppet” President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “clownish” government.
He said: “Whites don’t play; they are dealing with this clownish government of their puppet Cyril Ramaphosa. No single rubber bullet shot. Can you imagine if it was black people?”
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) October 6, 2020
A Fees Must Fall activist also questioned the treatment of the farmers by the police.
“I was sent to 6 months’ imprisonment & sentenced to additional 3 years house arrest which finishes in the year 2022. For using a slingshot during #feesmustfall protest. Imagine if I did what these white people are doing. I was going to be given a life sentence,” he said.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has since condemned the “unruly” behaviour of the protesters.
“During this ambush, numerous shots were fired, and the unruly protesters attempted to get to the suspects in the court’s holding cells, leading to clashes with police, where several police vehicles were vandalised.
“Despite the fact that police should be commended for making these speedy arrests, these unruly protesters opted to attack them and vandalise state vehicles.
“We find this unruly behaviour characteristic of recklessness, and those responsible should be held responsible,” said Popcru in a statement.
But civil rights organisation AfriForum said that “outside the court (it saw) how people show compassion and compassion, but also that people are angry about the situation in the country”.
— Isoldé Laesecke (@ILaesecke) October 6, 2020
“The anger that the people have expressed here today is the result of the cruelty of the problem which simply does not stop and which is accompanied by the care-me-not-like attitude that the government takes towards farm murders.
“The solution to the problem of farm murders is two-fold. The message of farm murders must be taken to the corners of the world and the council chambers of the United Nations to ensure that the international community takes note of it.
“The second part of the solution – which is even more important – is for people to realise that the government is not going to solve the crisis. Communities should rather become the solution themselves by joining community safety structures to take better care of their own safety,” said Ernst Roets, AfriForum’s Head of Policy and Action.
South Africans have taken to social media to voice their opinion using the hashtag #FarmMurders.