Crime Busters of SA: farm murders 2001-2003
Solidarity trade union: - list of farm murders
2003 - June 2009:
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- A Stuijt
- Retired South African medical journalist, ex-Sunday Times of Johannesburg.
The town of Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa is living in fear after nine white elderly couples were attacked within two weeks. Two women were raped and all the men were cruelly beaten up by a particularly violent gang described as 'from another African country' by police.
South African senior journallist Gerhard de Bruin writes in Rapport newspaper that the local police have now formed a special task force to try and find the gang, which targets only elderly white Afrikaans speakers inside their homes at night.
This gang’s hallmark is its extreme cruelty, the victims say.
This is Dion Röder (63), a lawyer in Ladysmith and wife Talita, after they were attacked.
In one attack on Christmas eve, a 70-year-old woman was also gang-raped by seven attackers, and another woman's jawbone was smashed. All the attacks occurred within a radius of just 1km.
On Tuesday night the owners of a Ladysmith guest house, Andy and Sheila Breedt, were attacked by five armed men in their bedroom while they were asleep inside their secured home.
Mrs Sheila Breedt’s face was beaten to a pulp. Police superintendent Sakkie Tredoux said there were clear indications that these attacks were all carried out by the same gang - all armed with large knives. From witness statements it also appeared that they were from other African countries. The men managed to crawl underneath electrified fences, managed to get past fierce guard dogs and even got across razor-wire to reach their victims.Often, very little of real value is stolen - in one case, a shotgun was stolen however. They also drove off in Röder’s car.
Local lawyer Dion Röder said he and his wife Talita were attacked on 17 December in their home. His stepdaughter Michelle, who lives in Canada, visited with them at the time.
They were all getting ready for bed when four men suddenly loomed up out of nowhere in the couple's bedroom.
He tried to fight them off but there were just too many of them and they tied him up after giving him a thorough beating. Then they forced him to watch while these four men beat up his wife, kicking and hammering at her with their fists.
The mother still tried to protect her terrified daughter Michelle by shielding her with her own body. Röder said he pleaded with the men not to rape the women - and they replied that they 'weren't in the business of raping women'.
The lawyer says he has never seen his community as frightened as they are now.
Everybody is buying even more burglar alarms and signing up with security companies.
"We aren't used to this kind of violence, Ladysmith has always been a reasonable peaceful village,' he said.
- Police captain Charmaine Struwig of the Ladysmith police confirmed that they had stepped up patrols in town, and also are coordinating their crime-fighting efforts with the private security companies to create an umbrella security network.
Nobody has been arrested.
Afrikaner parents, son sign suicide pact day before having to move
Jan 11 2009 – Brackenfell, Western Cape. Rapport journalist Bohemia Hoffmeester writes that an elderly couple and their son signed a suicide pact and carried it out before they were forced to leave their small rental home near Cape Town on Tuesday.
The bodies of Hendrik Strydom, 74, and wife Marina, 67, were discovered by a relative, Mrs Rina van den Berg, in their rental home in Ruwari, Brackenfell with gunshot wounds to the head.
Their son Marius, 46, was still alive but in serious condition. He was rushed to Tygerberg hospital nearby, but died the next day.
Nephew Andre van den Berg said the suicide-note was written in his aunt's handwriting - and signed by all three. Nobody knows who pulled the trigger. The policestill have opened a murder docket, according to inspector Erica Crous – even though they seem convinced that it had been a suicide pact.
A friend of the family said the family was having serious financial and medical problems.
They faced homelessness the next day because the owner of the property had ordered them to vacate the house - even though they had no other place to live. Their meagre belongings had already been packed up neatly before they killed themselves. Van den Berg said his uncle Hendrik had suffered a stroke six years earlier which had left him paralysed.
Marina worked at a pharmacy and her divorced son Marius who had also moved in with them, also still managed to hold down a job. A colleague at the pharmacy said Marina was a 'kind-hearted, gentle soul who could never have hurt anyone'.
She didn't believe that Marina would ever have wanted to have anything to do with the suicide pact. "She may have been elderly, but she was full of life.' The parents and the son were cremated and a memorial service was held by their church, the Members of the Congregation, in Brackenfell.
Afrikaners are growing increasingly destitute in South Africa. More than one-third of the 3-million Afrikaners are homeless and unable to work due to the restrictions placed on them by the ANC-government.
Couple found dead in hotel room
Heidelberg, Gauteng. A 39-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman were found dead on Saturday in their Protea hotel room in Heidelberg, Gauteng police said. Captain Khivhulawi Tshilate said the couple were found dead by staff. "The woman was found in a pool of blood with a gunshot with to her head and the man was found on the bed with a bullet wound in his chin." A gun and two empty cartridges were found under the bed," he said. Police have opened up an inquest as well as a case of murder (!).
State-owned SABC reported that the communities held an official from the Land Claims Commission hostage for three hours to ‘express their frustration with the land restitution process’. Disgruntled communities came out in large numbers to express their dissatisfaction in the commission. A project manager sent by Commissioner Sydney Hlongwane was held hostage for three hours. http://land.pwv.gov.za/restitution/no2~1.htm
The communities came looking for answers but were frustrated when they just heard more promises.
There were delays with the claims in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district because these claims had been transferred from the North West province to the Northern Cape’s land commission.
“It frustrates me and disgruntles me. I feel I'm not a South African because it seems the government cares for other South Africans and not me," says claimant Lesego Holele Gathose.In the past two years, the commission has only succeeded in paying claimants who were willing to settle for cash.
The Association for Community and Rural Advancement http://www.afra.co.za/ has warned of negative repercussions fuelled by delays, which the commission discouraged.
- "Don’t be surprised if people start going back and occupying their land," says Ancra Director Marela Manong. The commissionhas 200 claims to settle in Northern Cape.
PETITION BY THE ASSOCIATION FOR COMMUNITY AND RURAL ADVANCEMENT
Chairperson Tobias, Portfolio Committee Members, my name is Marcia Manong, I represent an organization called the Association for Community and Rural Advancement (ANCRA).This is a land service and rural development organization based in the Northern Cape province.
Thank you for this opportunity to express not only the opinion of my organization but the opinion of thousands of landless rural people living in remote areas of the Kgalagadi.We envisage the day they will receive just and equitable redress for the dispossession of their ancestral lands.
The struggle for land in South Africa is fundamentally a struggle over land rights, access to land, and the right of individuals to a sustainable livelihood on the land. It is a struggle that was born during the era of colonial and apartheid land dispossession, which confined Africans to 13% of the land and reserved the remaining 87% of the land for the state.
Picture: Landless farm dwellers during a protest march demanding land on commercial farms, March 2008. Fourteen years into the new dispensation, and the 1955 Freedom Charter promise to reverse the apartheid landscape or the 1994 Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP).Its promises to redistribute 30% of the land within the first five years has not been fulfilled.
To date less than 5% of the land has been redistributed, and the question we are asking our government is this: are you as government so intimidated by white land owners and their threats that expropriation will lead to famine? This is believed because you will be taking land out of white hands and putting it back into the hands of the original land owners and this supposedly will impact negatively on investor confidence?
We suggest that investor confidence both national and international has expressed greater concern about the long delays in finalization of our land restitution and redistribution programmes.
These delays will only breed discontent by the landless and possibly lead to actions none of us want to see taking place in South Africa.
‘Only because they feed the country…’
Organized agricultural unions in South Africa professes to be feeding the country. Only because of this, they believe government should not even think of expropriating land from them.
‘Why are so many people hungry?’
If they are feeding the country, then why are so many people in South Africa hungry, why are we importing wheat, and maize when the price of bread is so high, why are we importing meat, and other food products?
- I suggest that this is a misconception, that they are not feeding the country. Instead, they are busy turning their agricultural farms into game farms, eco-tourism hubs, golf courses and bio-fuel production centres.This means less land is being used for agricultural food production.
There have been complaints that say government gives land to blacks through the government’s land reform programmes. They say those very lands are not managed well and do not become sustainable developments capable of profitable agriculture. We accept that there are such examples of failed land redistribution.
However, we do not believe that is justification for not continuing to give land to the landless.
We say improve the post land-transfer support to those black emerging farmers including capacity enhancement and development capital.
- This was done by the previous government, which gave years and years of subsidies and land to white farmers to get them to the levels of commercialised farming they participate in today.
We accept that our government needs to be fair and we believe they have shown a fairness that never before existed. They are not grabbing land, as some would have us believe.
They not only pay compensation for any land that is expropriated but they commit to ensure that the compensation is just and equitable.
- That does not mean the compensation has to be market driven, since the farmers practice of not being “willing sellers” has already inflated the market.
As in historic time, the present is characterised by land being a means of power.
This is why land is an issue of rights. Land is far more than a productive mean and a commodity.
The right to land is directly and indirectly also the right to perform and practice ones culture, participate in democracy and be included in development and economic growth.
This growth and participation in democracy cannot be for a minority elite, nor based on race, class, sex, nor on the amount of power, wealth, or knowledge one has accumulated.
- Today the historical significance of land distribution is indisputable.
Though this is not a nostalgic argument that we wish to forward here, rather, the historical experience teaches us and indeed the South African landless people.The interests in and control over land remains a contested issue.
Therefore, we believe that the land rights perspective that we take is a necessary one, as the rights perspective sees land as a part of a complexity including socio-economic rights, pluralistic democracy, gender equity, and sustainable development.The rights perspective is not a sole option or approach to the land challenge. Far more common is and has been, approaches on productivity.
This approach takes up discussions of land ownership as an incitement for productivity, farm-size as measure, choice of crops and others. This approach has a risk of leaving out issues of the smallholder’s well-being and rights protection.
The African culturalist approach might tend to romanticise the original and traditional relation to land.
This comment is not meant to undermine indigenous knowledge; in fact, we encourage the promotion and recognition of indigenous agrarian knowledge and skills. However, we also recognise the need for us to incorporate other approaches. Newer approaches take up land as a cause of inequity dealing with democracy and justice in the administration of land.
The failure of post-apartheid market-driven land reform has worsened the impact on the nation’s poor.
The mechanisation and casualization of farm labour and the continuing spate of illegal farm evictions and abuses of farm dwellers has contributed negatively to land reform.
ANCRA is in favour of the proposed new Expropriation Bill (B16-2008) because we believe it:
- Seeks to realise Section 25 of the South African Constitution
- Seeks to align this new legislation with the constitution
- Seeks to respond to the demands of the Land Summit of 2005 which called for the scraping of the “willing seller” “willing buyer” approach to market-led land reform.
- Seeks to make compensation provision for the unregistered rights of land occupiers such as farm workers
We would however make a few suggestions for consideration in the new bill:
When you expropriate land we believe you should expropriate not just the surface rights but also the mineral rights (underground), whether they are old order rights or new rights.
And first consideration for those mineral rights should be given to whoever will become the new land owner. ( We have first hand experience where a rural community (the Maremane) was restituted to land only to have someone turn up within a few weeks of their occupation of their new lands, put up a sign that tells the new owners “do not enter” because he has mineral permits to mine their land).
We appreciate that anyone whose land is expropriated, has a right under this new legislation to appeal at court if they feel they have not been treated fairly. We suggest that there needs to be a time limit to the entire expropriation processes inclusive of court appeals to not exceed 12 months.
It is critical that the Regional Advisory Boards are representative, inclusive of landless representatives.
We would be concerned that the issues of skills levels not be used as a means to exclude poor previously disadvantaged people. Please ensure that when the bill becomes law that it gets implemented without delay and used not as a last resort but as needed to help South Africa bring transformation to the unresolved land challenge.
Finally we wish point out the MEC for Agriculture and Land Affairs in the Northern Cape Ms. Tina Joemat-Pettersson just last week made a statement:
- she said the controversial Expropriation Bill will never become law because it is illegal and unconstitutional.
We don’t agree with her and in fact think that someone in such a critical position as she holds should be more careful of the public statements she makes. We think it is quite unfortunate and actually misleading for her to make such statements and in our opinion it suggests she has not done her homework.
- Having said that we must also say that we accept all voices must be heard, those we agree with and those we don’t.
Thank you once again for allowing the voice of poor rural people to be heard, thanks to the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and those who have worked behind the scenes.
There is no doubt that to settle rural land claims, which is in the public interest to do so, we need to accept that expropriation will have to occur.
- In the Northern Cape where AnCRA works there are not sufficient unattached or state lands to settle the current rural claims. So let’s do the right thing.