Thousands of South Africans to wear black in defiance of farm murders

Thousands of South Africans have pledged to wear black today (Monday) in an act of defiance against the recent spate of violent farm murders.

It comes just days after a grape grower was shot on his farm near Stellenbosch in the Western Cape.

The man, who was killed in the early hours of Tuesday morning, has been named locally as 47-year-old vinyard owner Joubert Conradie. Three other similar events have also occurred in the region in just a few weeks.

The rate of farm murders is thought to sit at between 97 to 133 murders per 100,000 people; however, there are no official figures.

The Genoeg is Genoeg (Enough is Enough) campaign started after Chris Loubser, a friend of Conradie, posted an emotional plea asking others to wear black in memory of Conradie and to show their opposition to the spate of farm attacks.

Farmers and supporters will also make a 45km journey from Stellenbosch to Cape Town on a police-escorted convoy to further highlight their cause.

Speaking in the video, Loubser said: “If I was a magician then the whole city of Cape Town would be surrounded by tractors this morning so that no one can enter or exit, because it’s only by creating chaos that you are able to reach an audience at ground level. I feel that we have to do something so that us – the farming community – can be heard.”

Farmers fear violence

The brutal nature of the attacks is not uncommon; many farmers say they live in fear of violence.

Farm murders have become such an issue that many farmers feel they have to surround their property with high electric fences and CCTV.

In February, a Belfast-born farmer and his English wife were attacked at their farm in Mpumalanga province, a region to the north-east of the country.

Susan Howarth and Robert Lynn were brutally attacked by masked raiders at their home. Lynn survived despite being burned, stabbed and shot.

However, his wife was burnt with the blowtorch and suffocated with a plastic bag before she was shot dead.

An unprecedented move

Speaking to AgriLand, Liza Bohlmann head of special projects at Landbouweekblad, South Africa’s largest agricultural magazine, said thousands of people had already got behind the movement.

The publication has made the unprecedented decision to support the #enoughisenough campaign.

She said: “Normally we are very strict on being neutral and not supporting any campaigns but something about this one is different and the magazine has decided that we need to get involved and that we, as staff, will wear black on Monday.

“The movement has got tremendous support – they have been very clear not to use the word ‘protest’ but of course this is a protest in some sense.

This has got much bigger than sadness about a farmer dying; this is really showing the leaders of the country, police and the government that people are really tired of inaction.

“In South Africa farmers do not protest like this – it’s just not in our culture – we write letters and lobby politicians if we want change; they do not take to the streets like this – this is very unusual.”

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