Thousands of S.African bikers ride against farm violence

AFP , Saturday 29 Aug 2020

Thousands of South African bikers rode to the seat of government in Pretoria on Saturday to protest against farm attacks and racism.

They laid white-and-black crosses with letters attached to them, addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa asking him to put an end to the violence.

The crosses and white roses were laid against the steel barriers in front of the lawns of the Union Buildings -- where presidency and cabinet offices are located.

Estimated at more than 5,000, some wore t-shirts, jackets and face masks with messages denouncing farm violence.

"If there is no justice for farmers there will be no peace for the government," read one placard stuck to steel fence.

Similar protests were staged in various other towns and cities.

"The state has to declare that farm murders are a priority and realise that racism doesn't only affect blacks, but whites too," protest coordinator Frikkie Geyser, 60, told AFP.

A 57-year-old protester Brandus van Jaarsveld declared: "We can't even lose one more farmer".

"There are too many farm murders and all lives matter, and the murders have to stop," said biker Micheline Botha.

AfriForum, a pressure group that advocates on behalf of the country's nine-percent-strong white population, said 216 attacks have been recorded so far this year, 26 of which were murders.

The group said the assaults and murders are not only targeting whites, but also black people and Indians.

Attacks dropped drastically during the first few months of the country's coronavirus lockdown due to restricted movement, but from June the assaults spiked, according to farmers.

Murders are generally high in South Africa. In the 12 months up to April, the police recorded 21,325 murders, averaging 58 per day and showing a 1.4-percent increase over the previous year, according to official police statistics.

Of that number, 49 were farmers.

Police minister Bheki Cele last month told parliament that "we do take serious the issue of farm safety".

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