Buying the Farm, literallyby Brandon Edmonds / 10.11.2009
Whether the ghoulish sum is 3000 as the media claims or 2500 as a SA Human Rights Commission (HRC) report has it, there are simply way too many people dying on farms. Owners and workers both. Criminal assaults on farms have increased by 25% since 2006. The murder rate amongst white farmers is four times that of the general population. There have been over 9,400 documented assaults on farms with an estimated 61% of victims being white. The report insists that ‘the lack of prosecutions indicates the criminal justice system is not operating effectively to protect victims in farming communities and to ensure the rule of law is upheld’. No shit. Thousands are dead. Some killings are so extreme (victims lingeringly tortured and executed) that they suggest a kind of racial payback, an acting out of long suppressed rage at dispossession.
Right leaning conspiracy theories abound, seeing farm killings as part of a concerted ANC policy to ‘Kill the Boer’. The killings actually reflect the reality of unequal land distribution. Whites, thanks to centuries of colonialism and apartheid, still own three quarters of arable farmland. Access to land and its ownership and use has been central to the social disintegration of Zimbabwe. The specter of disintegration Zimbabwe-style haunts the land question in this country – raising the stakes and making all sides intransigent. No matter how much of a non-racial liberal humanist you are, though, however equivocal you are about boers, the bloodletting on farms is straight up appalling.