July 08 2009 at 04:55PM
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) needs to stop turning every incident into a racial issue when farmers try to protect their property, the Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa (Tausa) said on Wednesday.
Tausa President Ben Marais said that by doing so, Cosatu was encouraging an emotional climate which could lead to revenge attacks on innocent farmers.
He was reacting to remarks by Solly Phetoe, Cosatu’s North West provincial secretary, after farmer Dawie Swart appeared in the Brits Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
Swart faced charges of attempted murder for allegedly shooting four people at his Klipkop farm on suspicion they were stealing oranges on June 14.
Phetoe told protesters at the court that the matter against Swart was racially motivated. Cosatu also called for the withdrawal of Swart’s bail.
However, Tausa cautioned Cosatu from jumping to conclusions.
“Tausa wishes to state once again that the continuing murders of farmers is nothing but ethnic cleansing. Unfortunately nobody is willing to investigate this side of the issue.
“Consequently the theft of something as simple as a cellphone is abused to torture and murder people,” said Marais.
He said Swart’s case was brought to court, and the court would determine the real motive for the incident.
“It is a reality that farmers have many losses due to theft or damaging of property by people who trespass on their land.”
He said untested remarks from Cosatu, as in the case of Swart, promoted a climate of ethnic cleansing.
“The fact that Mr Swart attended the court proceedings in the Brits court is an indication that he has no intent to side-step the procedures of law. Therefore Tausa is not in favour of recalling his bail.”
Swart was granted bail of R7 000 and the case was postponed to August 7 for further investigation.
Cosatu also demanded his case be transferred to the high court in Pretoria.
They also wanted an investigation into an incident in which Swart allegedly shot and injured a farm worker in 2007. – Sapa