Black Monday Protest – The African National Congress (ANC) has called on all and sundry to treat all lives equally, irrespective of their race or colour, as all lives matter.
The ruling party’s comments come hot on the heels of the Black Monday protest, embarked by white farmers in the country earlier this week.
All dressed in black clothing, the farmers assembled on roads and motorways in a procession of tractors and trucks, to express their displeasure over the weak state response to “farm murders”, as they described it.
The protest which was undeniably racially charged was staged just two days after two white farmers were sentenced to over ten years in prison by Judge Segopotje Mphahlele, for kidnapping, assaulting and intending to do grievous bodily harm to a young black man named Victor Mlothshwa after they shoved him into a coffin, threatening to set him on fire. Video of the ugly incident was widely circulated both within and outside South Africa and as would be expected, it stirred up racial tensions.
Meanwhile, commercial farmers have for a long time, complained that the government has deliberately blocked its ears to their cries following the increased violent crimes unleashed on them.
In a bid to register their grievances, the commercial farmers and their supporters trooped out in their hundreds under the aegis of “Genoeg is Genoeg”, or Enough is Enough while paying tribute to those who have been killed.
Some of the protesters held placards that read: “No Boer No pap” or “Don’t kill the hand that feeds you” while carrying white crosses. Some others were seen raising apartheid-era South African flags and many people took to social media to express an open disapproval of the move, tagging it racist.
The Black Monday protest, which was reportedly attended by over 1,000 people, saw about 1,500 cars blocking the roads while the march lasted.
In a statement reacting to the protest, the African National Congress (ANC) pointed out that white farmers are not the only victims of farm murders, as black farmers have also had their fair share of the abominable act.
Above all, the ANC strongly condemned the display and flagging of South Africa’s old flag during the protest. Party spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa remarked that “The racial characterisation of crime and the stoking of racial hatred by some elements in the campaign through, amongst others, the arrogant and offensive display of apartheid South Africa’s flag, are indicative of an unrelenting yearning for apartheid fascism and white supremacy and make a mockery of the national reconciliation project; continuing to entrench obstacles to the creation [of] a nonracial society in South Africa.”
In the wake of the perceived “racial” march by the farming community, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), on Wednesday, condemned the excess attention being given to farm killings. The union pointed out that farm killings should be given the same kind of attention as the killing of an ordinary citizen.
COSATU also labelled the march as nothing but a “loutish posturing by some unredeemable and unreformed racists”, adding that the Black Monday protest should have targeted something meaningful rather than glorifying the old South African flag.
Similarly, AfriForum is said to have also distanced itself from participants who carried the old South African flag during the protest. The Agri SA, on the other hand, condemned the racialised nature of the march, saying that farm murders affected all races.
There has been a total of 65 murders on farms and 347 attacks so far in the country since the beginning of this year, according to recent information on Transvaal Agricultural Union’s database.
In an interview with the Chief Executive officer of the South African Institute of Race Relations, Frans Cronje, he explained that farm murders could be motivated by racism considering the racial nature of the political stigmatization of farmers. This, he explained, means that there is a higher likelihood for white farmers to be murdered than farmers who are black.
Speaking further, he also named racial incitement as one of the enabling factors that possibly contributed to the attack and the torture the farmer or his family were subjected to, but was also quick to point out that not all farm attacks are racial owing to the fact that every crime is unique with a unique motive behind it.
Farm murders could also stem from the issue of land redistribution which has remained one of the most divisive topics in South Africa. A recent land audit conducted by Agri SA revealed that 73% percent of agricultural land is owned by white South Africans – who make up just 8.9% of the entire population.