Why AfriForum Deputy CEO Ernst Roets took to Twitter and compared the killing of journalists by despotic regimes to farm killings. After stumbling upon news stories on the violent murder of journalists by despotic regimes around the world, Ernst decided to ask something unrelated, which has now become the most overused question in South African history; "What about farm murders?"
We have our own questions surrounding Ernst's questionable tweet.
Firstly, what does the murder of 50 journalists around the world (who lost their lives exposing organised crime, corruption and human rights abuses) have to do with the murder of 63 people in South African farm attacks? Absolutely nothing.
Secondly, note that he stated "people murdered during farm attacks", NOT Farmers. That's because not all of the 63 victims murdered during farm attacks were commercial farmers. Many people killed during farm attacks are not even involved in any significant agricultural activity.
Why are these 63 victims of farm attacks counted separately from over 21,000 other victims of murder in South Africa? It's not because they are of the same profession, same race, same gender or even same political affiliation.
The only reason Ernst and AfriForum grouped these 63 victims separately is because of an arbitrary definition of the geographical location where they were killed. Arbitrary because there is no consistent definition of what a "farm" is. For example, a smallholding on the outskirts of Pretoria which produces no food and rears no animals would be labelled a "farm" by AfriForum, but a rural homestead in Zululand with 100 head of cattle is not a "farm". That's one reason why it's so difficult to accurately determine the rate of farm murders in South Africa.
Let's be clear, we're not saying that the 63 people murdered during farm attacks don't matter. They do. What we're saying is that there's no logical reason why those killed on farms should be compared to journalists killed in their line of duty.
If you think we're wrong for criticising Ernst because "even one murder is one too many" please go tell Ernst that instead. If he was really concerned about the victims of violent crime, he wouldn't focus on just 63 out of roughly 21,325 other victims of murder in South Africa.
This tweet was not written out of concern for innocent victims of crime. It was a far-right dog whistle using these murders to promote AfriForum's finest blend of racist propaganda.
Ernst placed these two unrelated figures together not to condemn murder but to perpetuate the unproven far-right conspiracy theory that white farmers are being systematically targeted by the ANC regime. This is how AfriForum keep their members in a perpetual state of fear, deepening racial divisions in the process.
The myth of government complicity in South African farm killings has been debunked several times:
· Read Africa Check’s factsheet on statistics for farm murders and attacks here.
· Read The Washington Post’s debunking of former US president Donald Trump’s claim about murders on South African farms here.
· A detailed article discussing farm killings in-depth is available on this website. Read it here.