Police in the Free State town of Senekal are on high alert, ahead of a potentially violent confrontation between the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), minority rights group AfriForum and farmers on Friday, October 16.
Tensions are rising in the town following the murder of Brendin Horner, a 21-year-old farm manager on Friday, October 7. His body was found dangling from a pole in a Paul Roux field – a neighbourhood of the Free State. Two suspects were arrested in connection with his killing.
Sekwetje Isaiah Mahlamba (32) and Sekola Piet Matlaletsa (44) were due to appear in the Senekal Magistrate’s Court on charges of murder earlier this month, but chaos broke out when protesting farmers made the promise to personally avenge the farm manager’s death and attempted to attack the two suspects. Farmers also torched a police vehicle. The two suspects are expected to appear in court on Friday morning.
To ensure court proceedings go ahead without incident, police devised a strategy to keep the different groups in different parts of the town, and they will not be allowed to march. All roads leading to the court will be blocked off.
Public Order Police (POP) units have been called in from Bloemfontein, Bethlehem, and Selosesha to assist in Senekal. A water canon is on standby, police nyalas have barricaded the Senekal Magistrate’s Court precinct.
— Pretoria FM Nuus (@Klankkoerant) October 16, 2020
Police also established roadblocks throughout Senekal on Thursday, including stop-and-search operations. On the same day, members of the EFF drove through the town with loudspeakers to attract support for their protest on Friday.
Fighter are ready to face racists head on.
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) October 16, 2020
Speaking on Newzroom Afrika, EFF leader Julius Malema said the Constitution is under attack by “racist, terrorist farmers”. He called on the EFF is in Senekal to “protect democracy”.
“If the current regime can’t defend the state, we have a responsibility as peace-loving South Africans to defend our state against hooliganism, against terrorism,” he said.
Earlier this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed farm murders in an open letter to the nation, saying that any murder is one too many, and vigilantism would not be tolerated.