An open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa from the Southern African Agri Initiative (SAAI)

Dear President Ramaphosa,

Your open letter to South Africans in general and farmers in particular refers.

Thank you for writing it. At least you got involved in a debate that is heating up to dangerous levels. You have put a position on the table, and there is some reasoning behind it. It is clear that the majority of farmers – and this is the part of our farming community who has all the potential to bring our country to a standstill – do not share your position or the assumptions on which it is based.

The explosive polarisation of our society was ignited by yet another farm murder. Farmers, their sympathisers and friends are increasingly taking to the streets in protest against this horrible phenomenon, which has been denied and neglected – even fuelled – by your government. From all corners of the country they go to pay their respect and share in the pain of the victims and their loved ones. But they also go to express their disappointment with the poisonous environment that the ANC created and in which this phenomenon thrives. Their anger and frustration have reached boiling point, as was evident in Senekal last week. They go to demand that we bring an end to farm attacks (on average one every second day) and the gruesome murders (on average one every fifth day).

The EFF and factions within the ANC – like your Youth League – threaten to confront them in favour of farm murders. Your Youth League was quoted yesterday on the front page of the Sunday Independent, threatening war on farmers, who are blamed for the deaths of Solomon Mahlangu and Chris Hani. We have yet to hear your reaction to that, or from any other ANC leader.

You compare farm murders to the murders of Mogamad Cloete, Tawqeer Essop and André Bennett, three young men who were shot dead in the same week in a car in Delft in the Western Cape. It’s equally tragic, yes; but that is where the comparison ends.

In South Africa, farm attacks and especially farm murders are not the same as the other run-away statistics.

There are three aspects in particular that distinguish farm murders from the rest.

First: Nobody is publicly asking for township or gang murders to be committed. There is no populist incitement to commit urban murders. There is no deliberate creation of a political climate that encourages it, as is in the case with farm murders. Farm murders followed on the ANC, its leaders and especially its Youth League singing “Umshini wam” (bring me my machine gun) and “Kill the farmer, kill the boer”, which the EFF has since inherited. Have you seen all the tweets and Facebook posts of machine guns and machetes, referring to the expected showdown in Senekal?

More importantly: Has your government done as much as raising a finger to do something about this? Quite the opposite. Just listen again to Minister Bheki Cele’s tantrum at the murder scene of the Rafferty couple in Normandien a fortnight ago, when he warned farmers that they should not cry when they get hurt in reply to a simple question on how they should respond to cattle being driven onto their farms to destroy their crops.

The source of the mistrust that you refer to is right there in your cabinet!

Second: Robberies and urban murders are not committed with the same level of brutal torture. Children are not forced to watch while their mothers are raped; their eyes are not gouged out; and grandmothers are not mutilated by steel drills through their knees. On 4 June 2019 AfriForum pointed out with absolutely shocking figures that in almost half of the incidents of this inhuman violence nothing had even been stolen. This is murder for the joy of it.

Third: After township murders, follows no thunderous applause, especially on social media. Hundreds of radical Twitter accounts, with or without pseudonyms, welcome every report of yet another gruesome torture or murder scene and call for more of it, without any consequence. Law enforcers apparently lack the intention, ability or will to do anything about it.

No, there is no way that you can convince us or the world that farm murders are just mere extensions of a general ethos of violence and murder that are engulfing our country.

What can be done?

First, you and the ANC must recognise the problem. If not, any solution is impossible. It is unlikely to happen by itself. Social, political and particularly foreign pressure must be used to get the ANC to comply.

Second, you must intervene. You must set up an urgent discussion with more than just the agricultural structures who sing your praises and support your views on farm attacks. You must also engage with networks and civil rights movements such as ourselves in Saai, AfriForum, the Solidarity Movement and Institute of Race Relations, who speak out on behalf of farmers and who express their views, frustrations and anger.

You must defuse the situation now, while it is still possible. Do this before it escalates further!

I am sure that you must have noticed that the tide of international opinion has turned. More foreign newspapers and television stations now report on farm murders, and many are already questioning your statement at the UN’s General Assembly in 2018 in New York that farmers are not being murdered.

What is needed now is action. A specialist unit must be established to take pre-emptive action through intelligence linking. It is unforgiveable that no progress has been made in 15 years in terms of the SAPS’s commitment after the dissolution of the commandos, namely to establish a reservist force.

A small but significant step would be to stop disarming farmers who want to utilise the amnesty for the renewal of licenses – most who have missed deadlines because of poor service delivery in rural police stations. This leaves them vulnerable in the worst time and under the worst conditions ever. There is no logical reason for this. At least such a decision will show some sensitivity to the voice of reason and sense of comprehension from your side – and you need it.

I often wish that you and your colleagues, especially your ministers in the security cluster, would visit the scene of a farm murder just once. You should smell it and see it: the bestial brutality of the torture; the blood on the ceilings and the walls. Only then can you really engage the farming community on this topic with authority and experience.

Issued by Theo de Jager, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Saai, 12 October 2020

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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This open letter was first published on SAAI’s website.


  1. Just came from Randburg Magistrate Court. Bunch of thugs bussed in to intimidate the Magistrate. The judge had no option but to postpone proceedings, well, he/she could risk the option that court may be burned down. That is where we live now, bow to the thugs or risk the option that your place of employment may be burned down, with no punishment for the thugs. NPA is almost non-existent and if forced by a divine intervention to act, courts will just turn the blind eye to the terrorism. President personally has no intention to deal with criminality, and instead sends delegation from his geriatric society to intimidate people that are demanding protection from criminals, that very protection that they should be provided because they pay for it, called taxes. We are slipping into the dangerous territory, and I have feeling that president is pushing us down that slippery slope with big “wheeeeeeeeehaaaa” cheer.

  2. Enough is Enough. (Apologies in advance to the length of this post). South Africans excel at talking about the problems, but we are poor at identifying the root cause (which as far as I can tell is the inherently failed socialist dogma of the ANC and EFF).

    What is to be done? Simplistically I see only four possible options for an individual:

    1) Do nothing (this is the route 95% of us are going – complicit with the Government and the ANC). This is like drinking cocktails in the dining class of the titanic after it struck the iceberg. Pretending nothing is wrong, hoping for someone to fix things or praying for change will not change the fact the SA is already a failed state (not, as many would like to pretend, is on its way to a failed state). The inevitable outcome of this approach, taking SA’s trajectory into account, is fascism.

    2) Change SA – by “voting in another party” (this is (in my opinion) naïve and improbable, given education, cultural and demographic realities of our society. This is like trying to bail water out of the Tinanic after 4 of its compartments are flooded (while the ruling classes still sip champagne on the top deck). In any event we may have passed the tipping point and run out of “others people money” to steal (literally and via taxes). That leaves whipping out the begging bowl which we Africans are most proficient at. Blame the West for my problems on the one hand while beg for handouts on the other (probably from the East – our new colonial masters? mmm wonder how the Uyghurs are enjoying their lot)

    3) Emigrate – what most people capable of have done or are doing (this incidentally also increases the probability of # 2 not being achieved). This is like the first few life rafts on the Titanic taking on 5-10 passengers who saw it coming, instead of their capacity of 50-70. Those who cheer this option on are naïve to the fact that these people leaving are the exact same people who’s taxes pay for the 1.3m government employees and 18m social grant recipients.

    4) Support secession – this is not debated enough and is potentially the only viable option for an achievable, sustainable and desirable outcome for a larger community than the few who manage to emigrate. Secession takes Dr Frans Cronje’s “enclaves theory” to a practically large enough community level to be viable. Establishing an enclave in a socialist South Africa does not, will not and cannot protect one from the state. It is fallacy and is like trying to have light exist in a black hole. The gravity is simply too great. Establishing an “enclave” as a seceded people may provide the only opportunity to “get enough people off the titanic” and fill the life rafts to maximum carrying capacity.

    I am personally implementing #3 while supporting #4. After all I am still an African. I would like to see much more discussion on secession as a potential viable solution, now while there still is a rather slim chance (or best you hope/ensure you are one of the few who managed to get a life raft and emigrated)

    • Neil, I am sorry, but your comment is not long, and I think we are beyond the redemption. What is happening now is a play scene from a book that not even Devil himself could write. Yes, the more sinister force trough the person named Karl wrote it, and unfortunately we are going to live through it.

      • Neil, you are spot-on in your observation. It all boils down to theses choices. Underlying to this is racist legislation and regulation that relegates minorities and especially whites to second-class citizens in contravention to the RSA constitution, ANC Freedom Charter and international law. This sets the scenario for the current status-quo referred to in the article. In short, there can be no justice without equality. While President Ramaphosa seems intent on restoring good governance, in the face of relentless racial discrimination in the form of BEE which the ANC often states will last 400 years, minorities must make a choice. And those who have understandably chosen to emigrate, unless actively involved in supporting the few South African individuals and institutions who are trying to address this crisis or are internationalizing this issue can keep their opinion to themselves.

        • People still think this fake rainbow bs that were dished up by the liberals and their masters are going to work, it never will. Instead of marching and complaining people should give a group like their mandate but for some reason they simply prefer moan, groan and complain. As jy dom is moet jy suffer.

  3. The content of most comments & theorising, many of them excellently written with complete honesty & good compassionate intentions.
    Unfortunately those warm & fuzzy words used in the vast majority of writings are totally foreign to 99.5% of Africans. I & my family left RSA in 1989, that’s 31 years ago & 5 years before majority rule.
    Family & friends asked why??
    My standard reply was based on history & I used to point out the state of Africa at that point in time. Also pointing out I had two young daughters to care for & ensure their safety not to mention a future.
    Thirdly I thought of growing old in a country which had little chance of having a stable political & financially stable future.
    Fourthly I’m not a gambling man, especially when the dice is loaded.
    I was 44 years old in 1989, so there was a small gamble.
    Seeing the state of a much loved South Africa today vindicates my decision & all the doubts. Emigration is not easy & at times is scary. But as you know Saffers are up for a challenge. All worked out well. If you have the financial ability to emigrate it’s your choice. If you don’t have finances it’s still worth having a go as long as you have some recognised qualification.


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