Disparate groups of protesters in Senekal on Friday.
- The SAHRC wants to act as a mediator in Senekal.
- They intend to bring together political parties.
- SAHRC commissioner Chris Nissen said: “The commission is very concerned that the custodians of food security are under attack.”
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) wants to act as a mediator and bring different parties together in Senekal, the SAHRC told the portfolio committee on justice. The area has been a hotbed of violence since a farm manager was allegedly murdered, and farmers went on the rampage during a previous appearance.
The committee had its virtual meeting with the SAHRC on Friday morning, while tension reigned in Senekal where the two men accused of 21-year-old farm manager Brendin Horner appeared in the local magistrate’s court for their bail hearing.
On Thursday, the SAHRC released a statement, calling for calm.
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“The Commission demands that the constitutional right to protest be exercised within the ambit of the Constitution and the law. Thus all participants in protest action must exercise this right unarmed and peacefully,” read the statement.
“The Commission insists that the heightened tensions based on race and social status are of no benefit to the social cohesion that South Africa’s peace and stability are dependent on.
“The push for confrontation with the potential for violence, damage to property and even threats to lives accentuates polarisation which is contrary to fostering South Africa as a constitutional democracy where all are free, equal and are treated with dignity.
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“We should all work towards securing reconciliation between farm dwellers and farmers, farmers and the SAPS and to restore trust in the law enforcement agencies.
“The Commission thus asks for peace and for communities to allow the justice system and legal processes to run its course, unfettered.
“A peaceful, prosperous nation is dependent on an efficient justice system, which operates independently of community sentiments. Violence and damage to property will not aide in bringing justice in the name of Mr Horner, or any other person who has lost their life to crime.”
DA Werner Horn said while the SAHRC’s impartiality has been questioned in the past, their release on Senekal, “displayed the type of even-handedness and an appreciation of all the emotions and the different factors at play in a very complex situation”.
SAHRC commissioner Chris Nissen said three commissioners – himself, André Gaum, and Jonas Sibanyoni – will visit Senekal to look at possible interventions. They will play a mediation role and look to bring together political parties.
“Of course, the commission is saying that one murder is one murder too many,” Nissen said.
“The commission is very concerned that the custodians of food security are under attack.”
He also mentioned the high murder rate on the Cape Flats due to gang violence.
“We are saying we are living in a very dysfunctional society.” He said while they welcome the police’s rural safety strategy, it needs to be enhanced.
Sibanyoni said the SAHRC has, “realised that the issue of farm attacks are escalating”. He said they intend to have a webinar and are currently identifying participants for this.