The death of a farmworker while driving a tractor is the latest incident of “racialised violence” in the farming community.
Gauteng MEC for economic development, environment agriculture and rural development, Lebogang Maile has called “the latest spate” of killings of farm workers “concerning”, adding that the deaths painted an “ugly picture of racialised violence”.
In the latest incident, a 32-year-old farmworker was shot and killed, allegedly by his employer, on a farm in Tarlton, outside Krugersdorp, over the weekend.
Details of the alleged murder were still vague but police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubela confirmed that the incident happened on January 6.
“The farmer phoned the police and told them that he shot a farmworker who stole his tractor,” Makhubela said.
Before police arrived, the farmworkers attacked the farmer and also damaged his vehicle, Makhubela added.
The farmer fled the scene, but handed himself over to the police later on Saturday.
He appeared in the Krugersdorp Magistrates’ Court on Monday, on a charge of murder.
Pictures of the farmworker, who lay in a pool of blood on the tractor, were shared widely on social media.
Some social media users have claimed he was killed for using the tractor to fetch lunch from his house.
Maile has sent his condolences to the family of the farm worker.
“[This] latest spate of killings of farm workers [is] not only worrying, but concerning. The [killings] seek not only to undermine the reconciliation project, but our efforts of building a non-racial country that truly belongs to all, both black and white,” he told News24 on Monday.
This latest incident followed the killing of a man during a funeral on a farm in KwaZulu-Natal on January 2.
A farmer from Cramond was charged with murder and attempted murder.
Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala told The Witness that Edward Solomon (65) allegedly showed up with a firearm at the funeral of a “Lembethe” family member at the Otto’s Bluff farm.
“He demanded that the people who were attending the funeral must leave. When one of the funeral goers spoke to him, he allegedly shot the man before fleeing the scene in his vehicle. The 30-year-old man sustained gunshot wounds to the upper body and died at the scene,” Gwala said.
The small town of Lichtenburg in the North West was torn apart after a local businessman, Jaco du Plooy, was granted bail after allegedly shooting dead a 15-year-old boy in October last year.
Joseph Tshukudu was killed during a service delivery protest. According to witnesses, the 15-year-old was standing away from a group of protesters, redirecting motorists away from a barricaded road.
The court heard that Du Plooy was driving with about four of his workers in the back of a bakkie when he arrived at the spot where Tshukudu and the others were standing.
He got out and opened fire, hitting Tshukudu in the forehead.
Two of his companions sustained light injuries from the shooting.
Meanwhile, the two men accused of killing a 16-year-old boy in Coligny, also in the North West, will go on trial in March.
Phillip Schutte and Pieter Doorewaard are accused of killing Matlhomola Moshoeu by throwing him off a moving bakkie on April 20 last year.
The two men’s version to the court was that the boy had jumped off the vehicle after he was apprehended for stealing sunflowers from their boss’s fields.
The case plunged Coligny into chaos. Several houses were burnt down and shops looted amid escalating racial tension.
The violence soared after the two men were freed on bail.
It later emerged that there were several other cases involving the mysterious deaths of black people, whose bodies were found at one of the farms in the area.
Police were yet to clarify the status of the cases, which were registered as inquests.
– Additional reporting by News24