It started with a scripture reading and a prayer – and ended up with a police van being upended and torched. More than 1000 people turned up to protest at Senekal in the Eastern Free State earlier this week, ostensibly to show support for the family of Brendin Horner, the young farm foreman who was beaten to death and then strung up on a pole last Friday.
The murder of people on farms is scandalous. Almost always unimaginably cruel – although Horner’s murder plumbed deeper depths than before – they have become a rallying cry for the white right wing and an increasing problem for the Ramaphosa administration, whose response is an ostrich like denial.
Keeping quiet just plays into the hands of the unrehabilitated racists. We saw that in the spin that was put on the Senekal protest afterwards, the lynch mob that tried to break into the cells and get to the two suspects. The same ‘minority’ that posed for pictures atop and alongside the overturned police van – before it was torched.
We saw that in the fevered conspiracy theories that the white anger in Senekal was justified because of police complicity in local stock theft syndicates – conveniently ignoring that many in the crowd weren’t farmers or from the local community. Some of the protesters weren’t even white. Forgetting too, the alacrity with which the police had arrested two suspects.
We saw that in the Trumpian demonisation of “Mainstream Media (MSM) on social media, blithely ignoring the real journalists covering the actual protest – on the ground, not somewhere else retweeting social media.
We saw that in the “whatabout-ism” that followed; that the mob should be forgiven because they had been failed by a systemically racist system because white lives don’t matter – yet conveniently whitewashing (sic) the gender-based violence against MSM journalists in Senekal.
If the protesters did get one thing right, it’s that Bheki Cele must fall.
Not because of his appalling attitude at a recent meeting with KZN farmers, but because he is heroically inept at his job – unless you are one of the several hundred thousand people arrested for breaking lockdown earlier his year.
His officers still haven’t arrested Senzo Meyiwa’s killers – or Markus Jooste.
In fairness, at least one person has been arrested for Tuesday’s mayhem. The people who torched the police van though should be put away, like Kanya Cekeshe, for at least the next two years.
We are one people with one law, irrespective of what some political leaders would have us believe. Indeed, the Opportunist-in-Chief, fresh from his victory at Clicks, has called up his “fighters” for the next court appearance fittingly pitting one set of racists against another.
The only solution to all of this is to apply the Rule of Law, consistently and continuously. Murdered white farmers are a statistically minute part of our murder rate, but that doesn’t make them less dead. It might be politically expedient, but it is deeply unethical and beyond callous for politicians to ignore their deaths. The sad truth is that the system hasn’t failed whites, it’s failing South Africans – every single one of us.
Originally published on the 10 October 2020 in the Saturday Star