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Man arrested in connection with farm murder protest

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The 52-year-old man is expected to face charges of malicious damage to property

A group of farmers trying to topple a police Nyala. Picture: Twitter

A 52-YEAR-old man has been arrested in connection with the torching of a police vehicle at the Senekal Magistrate’s Court in the Free State on Tuesday.

Free State police spokesperson Lieutenant-General Baile Motswenyane said in a statement on Wednesday that investigations into the matter were continuing and more arrests were imminent.

The 52-year-old man is expected to face charges of malicious damage to property.

“The team resumed with the work yesterday so as to identify those responsible for such riotous behaviour and that led to the arrest,” the statement said.

“The suspect will be charged with malicious damage to property and public violence and will appear in the Senekal Magistrate’s Court soon.”

Motswenyane added that “’we believe that ongoing relations between the police and farmers and farming communities will assist in putting this matter to rest and ensure that justice prevails”.

The ANC Youth League Crisis Committee, among others, had called for the farmers who were involved in violent clashes with the police to be arrested.

Thousands of farmers had protested outside the court, where two suspects – Sekwetje Mahlamba and Sekola Matlaletsa – were appearing in connection with the murder of Brendin Horner, 21.

Following the suspects’ court appearance, a small group of farmers allegedly stormed the court building.

The protesting farmers allegedly set a police van on fire and videos showed a group of them trying to topple a police Nyala.

Police Minister Bheki Cele and Justice Minister Ronald Lamola have both condemned the incident. Cele also questioned the demonstrators’ motives in “turning their anger towards the police”.

Commenting on the incident, Asanda Luwaca, a spokesperson for the ANCYL Crisis Committee, said: “This is a calculated and deliberate move by criminals who sympathise with apartheid and its explicit endorsement of the supremacy of a particular race as an organising ideology of social life.

“The attempts to intensify racial tensions and spark civil war must be condemned with the contempt they deserve and all elements who actively participated must be arrested.

“While we equally condemn all manner of violence and the crime of murder, we caution those who are under the impression that they are above the law and are intent on organising violence on the basis of race, to desist from divisive and intellectually malnourished postures and a general display of idiocy, instead they must formulate progressive conversations, with considerations of acceptable intellectual height.”

However, AfriForum, who had branded farm attacks and murders as a form of terror, had said on Tuesday: “The fury that the people expressed here today is the consequence of the cruelty of a problem that simply persists, coupled with the government’s lackadaisical attitude towards farm murders.”

EFF leader Julius Malema was scathing about the police response to the violence outside the court.

‘’Whites don’t play; they are dealing with this clownish government of their puppet @CyrilRamaphosa. No single rubber bullet shot. Can you imagine if it was black people?’’ Malema said on Twitter.