Mmusi Maimane: Senekal murder should not be reduced to a race war

09 October 2020 - 09:12 By cebelihle bhengu
One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has called for unity.
One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has called for unity.
Image: Twitter/Mmusi Maimane

One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane says the murder of 21-year-old farm manager Brendin Horner in Senekal, Free State, must not be reduced to a race war between black and white South Africans.

Instead, South Africans must unite in the fight against crime.

“There can be no debate, that our citizens across different races are under threat and in fear of living in crime. Murder is murder, regardless of who commits it and against whom it is committed,” said Maimane.

Maimane was addressing the media on Thursday about the launch of One SA's post Covid-19 economic recovery plan. He said police must be allowed to investigate and hold to account those responsible, without any interference from those who seek to take the law into their own hands.

“I want to call on all South Africans, however long, however difficult it is, we have to be patient to allow the law to take its course.

“It can be tempting for all of us to take the law into our own hands, but we have to respect institutional capacity, that those who commit heinous crimes can face court action, be prosecuted and the appropriate sanctions be brought against them,” said Maimane.

Maimane said the Senekal murder, and the protests that followed, had become racially polarised. He called for unity.

“The incident is fast becoming one that is racially polarising, as people frame it as a war of Afrikaaner versus a black South African. I want to say, undeniably, we have to work together and ultimately ensure that we do not allow this incident to divide our country. We cannot reduce this war to a contestation between races, but ultimately, as we build institutions, allow them to do their jobs, as difficult as that is.

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Violent scenes unfolded on Tuesday after two men, suspected to be stock thieves, appeared before the Senekal magistrate's court in connection with Horner's murder. They were arrested on Saturday at Fateng tse Ntsho in Paul Roux after bloodied shoes and clothes were found and taken for forensic testing. 

At the time of his murder, Horner worked for Bloukruin Boerdery which is owned by Gilly Scheepers. His body was discovered on Friday at the De Rots farm. He had been tied to a pole and had injuries on his face and head.

The suspects will appear in court on October 16 for a formal bail hearing.

A police van was overturned and set alight outside the court in Senekal on Tuesday as protesters called for justice for Horner. Others damaged court property and attempted to force entry into the cells, demanding that the suspects be handed over to them.

Politicians have weighed in on the matter, with EFF leader Julius Malema questioning the alleged bias of police.

On Wednesday, he called on party supporters to head to Senekal for the next court appearance, to “defend” public property and democracy. His calls have received mixed reactions as some backed him, while others, including politicians, accused him of inciting violence and racial tensions.

Police arrested a 52-year-old farmer for his alleged involvement in the protests. Investigations are under way, with more arrests expected to follow.

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen slammed the government for not giving farm murders the attention they deserve. He too cautioned against tensions and pointing of fingers and called for unity in the fight against crime in rural communities.