December 20, 2015

#FarmAttack: Farmer living in fear after black refugees threaten to kill him & his family

“I am very scared of this group. It does not feel safe here. They threatened to cut off my head and kill my family.

Rescued refugees turn on Samaritan

Andrew Wartnaby, who owns Hope Farm in Cato Ridge, northwest of Durban, lives like a prisoner after his life has been threatened by a disgruntled group of foreign nationals he accommodated on his farm.

They have accused him of being a government agent and alleged that he was starving them and benefiting financially from donations made by those who wanted to help the displaced immigrants. The rebel group has also denounced its leader, Vital Neshimirimana.
Wartnaby on Saturday told the Sunday Tribune that he is terrified to walk on his farm following an incident on Thursday when a fire broke out, believed to have been started by the group burning a tent.
The farmer said the day before the incident they had chanted “No more cabbages! No more cabbages!” in rejection of food offered to them. He said when he went to address the group, its members encircled and insulted him.
“I am very scared of this group. It does not feel safe here. They threatened to cut off my head and kill my family. I walk very carefully around here. We have public order police on site every night since the incident occurred. I feel like a prisoner in my own house. It is a difficult situation,” said Wartnaby.
He added that last Sunday he and his family held a birthday party for a group member in their house, but on Tuesday he was vilified.
Although Wartnaby does not regret offering part of his farm to the victims of the recent alleged xenophobic attacks, he explained that his actions had overtaxed government services. He said it was complicated and he could not understand why his guests hated him so much when they were close to his children.
“I have no regrets for what I did but on the other hand I regret the kind of pressure I have placed on people around me – the police and the Department of Social Services and our neighbours,” Wartnaby said.
His wife Rae said: “It is completely crazy. They are fighting over logistics – water, food and toiletries. The communication between the two groups has completely broken down to a point that it can never be repaired. It is really sad to see what frustration can do to people.”
The leader, Neshimirimana, who was chosen by the victims shortly after they arrived at the farm, said he also feared for his life after he was threatened by the mob. They accused him of “selling” them to government.
“There is no way we can make peace with them. They have decided to break away from us. They are unruly and our lawyer was threatened when she came here on Friday. She could not come inside the premises, fearing for her life,” he said.
In a statement released on Saturday afternoon by Sheena St Clair Jonker, the director of The Access to Justice Association of Southern Africa, she said: “There is no evidence to support that the fire was an attack and the SAPS intelligence are gathering evidence to piece together what happened.”
The group, Access to Justice, has been working with the foreigners to allow them to re-settle in a third country.
Jonker said the situation had become complex when the group split, with a larger, dissenting group refusing to be assisted on a case-by-case basis, and only willing to be assisted as a whole. The latter option was not feasible, she said.
“The situation came to be regarded by us as internally unstable and menacing and a stalemate was reached with the larger group (incorporating a large number of children) refusing assistance individually or per family, which is the only basis on which Access to Justice is willing and able to advance the process. The smaller of the groups has remained co-operative all the way through.
“Our understanding is that social relations on the farm have broken down. The SAPS and the SA Council of Churches are attempting to bring about resolution.
Ultimately, the problem remains that the group has nowhere to go. If you feel you can assist in any way in providing safe alternative shelter, please get in touch,” Jonker said.
Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu's spokesman, Sbusiso Magwaza, commented that they had no plans to intervene until the commission set up by Mchunu to investigate the causes of xenophobia in the province completed its work. The commission is headed by former UN judge Navi Pillay and was created in June this year after an outbreak of alleged xenophobia swept through the province.
“The commission has not yet completed its work. After that it will then be tabled before the premier for deliberation before making a decision based on its findings. It will be made public once it is ready,” Magwaza said.