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Death of 2 black South African farm labourers stokes racial tensions

Death of 2 black South African farm labourers stokes racial tensions

South Africa

The beating to death of two black farm workers in South Africa by white farmers in January has revived racial tensions in that country.

A court in Parys is handling the matter.

Four white farmers are accused of murdering Seun Tangasha, 29, and Samuel Tjexa, 35.

A group of black demonstrators turned up at the court chanting “kill the Boer, kill the farmers.”

The community’s white residents also came to the court to support their colleagues who are standing trial.

The agricultural town is divided by barbed wires with white residents on one side, and black residents on the other side.

Many blacks in the town see the case as tangible proof of their exploitation by whites.

“These farmers must be sentenced to life imprisonment. The Courts watch them kill blacks but they leave them out on bail because they are white. No one came to help us, the police did not even come with us,” Anna Jubeba, an aunt to Seun Tangasha told the AFP.

The whites see the situation as representing their constant fear of attacks on their property.

Police reports indicate that Seun Tangasha and Samuel Tjexa went to claim close to 20,000 rand (approximately $1,300) of unpaid wages from their employers on January 6 but the two were allegedly hit on the head with the butt of a gun. They were then followed and severely beaten by the white farmers and left to die.

“It is not racism. If that was the case, farmers would have killed 10 black people. It is either a wage dispute or an attack of a farm,” explained Kobus Dannhauser, leader of the Union of Parys Farmers.

Post-apartheid South Africa is struggling with issues of racism, crime and poverty.

According to the Afrikaner lobby group, 64 farmers and farm labourers (both white and black) were killed last year in 318 attacks.

Official figures are however unavailable.