South Africa‘s President Cyril Ramaphosa called for calm on Monday, hoping to tamp down rising racial tension in his country following months of protests by white farmers over a spike in deadly attacks.
The tensions reached a new level early last week when a group of mainly white farmers stormed a courthouse during the hearing of two black suspects accused of killing a 22-year-old farm manager.
Ramaphosa, in his weekly newsletter to the nation, rejected claims by pressure groups representing the country’s white minority that the farm attacks were racially motivated.
He instead characterised the attacks as a sad reminder that the country was still recovering from its dark past under the apartheid regime, which ended in 1994.
“We would be naive to assume that race relations in farming communities have been harmonious since the advent of democracy,” Ramaphosa wrote.
“Unless this is addressed in an open and honest manner, unless we are prepared to engage in dialogue, this will remain a festering wound that threatens social cohesion”.
Ramaphosa condemned the murder of the young farm manager earlier this month in the Free State province, around 300 kilometers (185 miles) south of Johannesburg.
He said the spectacle of white farmers storming a court to attack two black suspects “opened up wounds that go back many generations.”
The alleged lead instigator of the rioters, Andre Pienaar, who is in his 50s, was subsequently arrested and charged with terrorism on Friday.
Read more: AFP