The EFF leader, Julius Malema, has laughed off a warning by former president Kgalema Motlanthe that potential clashes between the red berets and Free State farmers could be possibly lead to civil war.
During an interview with Newzroom Afrika’s Xoli Mngambi, Malema said their protest on Friday at the Senekal Magistrate’s Court would be peaceful. However, he would not be bothered should his presence in Senekal ultimately lead to a civil war.
Malema told Mngambi, “This is our country. We too belong here. If going to Senekal will cause a civil war, and if a man exercises his constitutional right that will lead to a civil war, so be it. I’m not talking here from the comfort of my couch, I will be in Senekal myself.”
The EFF leader’s message comes as Agri SA chief executive Christo van der Rheede warned, “We cannot afford another Marikana in this country.”
Van der Rheede is concerned that two clearly opposing groups – the EFF and eastern Free State farming communities – will clash outside the Senekal court when the two suspects charged with killing the 21-year-old farm foreman Brendin Horner is due to appear tomorrow.
Following last week’s uproar when approximately 100 people stormed the same court and gunshots were fired, Van der Rheede pleaded with the farming community to remain calm and within the ambit of the law. The situation remains tense, and pres. Cyril Ramaphosa has already sent three ministers, Bheki Cele, Ronald Lamola and Ayanda Dlodlo, to try and restore calm.
Van der Rheede told Food For Mzansi journalist Noluthando Ngcakani, “People should rather refrain from joining marches or protest gatherings. We really want to avoid conflict and bloodshed of any kind. We do not want this to become a racial tug of war.”
“We all have to show leadership. Violence is not the answer, neither is inciting people (to violence). This is just going to ignite a fire that none of us will be able to control,” Van der Rheede said.
Agri SA’s president, Pierre Vercueil, also pleaded for calm ahead of the Senekal court proceedings. In a video message, Vercueil said while emotions nationwide were running high, a sense of calm was required.
On Tuesday during a portfolio committee meeting, deputy police minister Cassel Mathale said should further clashes happen at the court tomorrow, the police “would be in charge”.
The Southern African Agri Initiative’s (SAAI) chairman, Theo De Jager, told eNCA that the protests could go one of two ways. “Either it is going to escalate, and this road has all the potential to lead to severe conflict.
“Or we need to move to the middle ground. All of our farmer’s organisations are working really hard to move more people into the middle ground and to ensure that there is a meaningful, but also action-orientated debate on how to stop this terrible phenomenon of farm murders.”
Former president, Kgalema Motlanthe has warned that escalating racial tensions in the country could lead to civil war. Last week, farmers went on the rampage in Senekal in the Free State during the first appearance of two suspects arrested for a farm killing.#Newzroom405 pic.twitter.com/STMdlu6Fkm
— Newzroom Afrika (@Newzroom405) October 14, 2020
New Free State rural safety command centre
Meanwhile Food For Mzansi can confirm that a rural safety command centre is planned for the Free State. This follows a joint decision by Agri SA, Free State Agriculture and TLU SA. The centre will deal with criminality in rural areas.
Tommie Esterhuyse, chairperson of Agri SA’s centre of excellence for rural safety, welcomed the centre’s establishment after positive engagement with the national police commissioner earlier in October.
According to Marthin de Kock, vice-chairperson of Free State Agriculture’s rural safety committee, the role, involvement and empowerment of young farmers, in particular, will be extended within the revised strategy.
- This article was updated by Food For Mzansi on Thursday, 15 October at 20:42 to include Malema’s remarks during his Newzroom Afrika interview.