White South African farmers and rival Black protesters hurled abuse and threats at each other on Friday ahead of a court hearing in a murder case that has exposed still simmering racial tensions 26 years after the end of apartheid.
The killing of Brendan Horner, a white man whose body was found tied to a pole at his farm in Free State province, sparked riots at the start of this month, and prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa to make a statement urging South Africans to “resist attempts… to mobilise communities along racial lines”.
The farmers, who accuse the government of failing to protect them from violent crime, arrived in pick-up trucks ahead of the court hearing in the central town of Senekal for Horner’s two suspected killers.
The farmers mostly wore khaki shirts and shorts, a few wore military outfits, and at least one was armed. A group on motorbikes sporting long beards drove through Senekal, a trading town surrounded by dry, hilly countryside, some waving flags with crosses on.
“We are getting tired now of all the farm murders,” said Geoffrey Marais, 30, a livestock trader from Delmas, where a woman was strangled to death two weeks ago.
“Enough is enough. They (the government) must start to prioritise these crimes.”