The Presidency is trying to soften the fallout after President Cyril Ramaphosa said there are no farm murders or land grabs in South Africa.
“There are no killings of farmers or white farmers in South Africa. There’s no land grab in South Africa. We are involved in a process of discussing land reform‚” Ramaphosa said in an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday.
Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said on Thursday that Ramaphosa was responding to US President Donald Trump’s tweet in which he claimed there is a “land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers”.
Diko said: “This is what the President (Ramaphosa) was dismissing and we reject the notion that he lied. Crime happens in all our communities including townships‚ rural areas‚ farms and suburbs.”
She further explained: “It is very unfortunate that anyone would want to deliberately distort the President’s remarks which were in direct response to ‘large scale killing of farmers’‚ a characterisation everyone knows holds no truth in South Africa.”
Ramaphosa told Bloomberg that Trump’s tweet was “clearly misinformed”.
“Whoever gave him that information was clearly wrong.”
Ramaphosa’s remarks have ruffled AfriForum’s feathers. They said on Thursday they were going to send the loved ones of farm murder victims across the Atlantic as part of the next phase of their awareness campaign about farm murders and expropriation without compensation.
According to the latest crime statistics‚ there were 62 recorded farm murders‚ 33 house robberies‚ six attempted murders and two rapes on farms in 2017/18. This pales in comparison with the 57 South Africans murdered daily.
“AfriForum wants to provide farm attack victims and their families with the opportunity to tell their stories to opinion formers‚ politicians‚ government representatives and the media in Washington‚” AfriForum said.
AfriForum deputy chief executive Ernst Roets said Ramaphosa’s remarks were “a slap in the face of the more than 10‚000 people who were attacked on South African farms‚ as well as the families of the approximately 2‚000 victims who were killed in these farm attacks”.
He added: “There is no way to beat around the bush or tone down what the president said. It is shamelessly false.”
The Institute for Race Relations (IRR) also lambasted Ramaphosa’s remarks‚ making reference to police annual crime statistics.
“The same police data shows that 353 such murders occurred since 2012/13.”
IRR chief executive Frans Cronjé said Ramaphosa’s remarks were “offensive to the victims of farm murders – black and white – and to the millions of South Africans who live with insecure title to the properties they occupy”.
The IRR advocates for all South Africans to have property rights. They also want the government to support emerging black commercial producers by providing them with title‚ cheap financing and proper extension services.
“What is necessary is to face the hard facts that the policy of expropriation without compensation has been a political and economic disaster‚ and to abandon that policy and replace it with new and effective models of land reform that secure and expand the property rights of all South Africans in order to stabilise the economy while at the same time ensuring that proper restitution takes place.”
Agricultural union AgriSA said they are “displeased” with Ramaphosa’s remarks.
“Farm attacks and murders on all farmers‚ farm workers and their families is a huge problem that needs to be recognised‚” AgriSA president Dan Kriek said.
“Agri SA appeals to President Ramaphosa as the President of South Africa to give the necessary nuances and facts about the matter.”